Fam­ily’s plea to con­tinue hunt for teenager as two are ar­rested

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Martin Evans CRIME COR­RE­SPON­DENT

PO­LICE in­ves­ti­gat­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of a teenage girl have ques­tioned a 19-year-old aspir­ing ac­tor and his 71-year-old grand­mother on sus­pi­cion of mur­der, as her fam­ily urged peo­ple to con­tinue look­ing for her.

Gaia Pope, 19, from Lang­ton Ma­travers in Dorset, was stay­ing at a re­la­tion’s home in Swan­age when she went miss­ing on the af­ter­noon of Nov 7.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, Dorset Po­lice ar­rested Nathan Elsey, a friend of Miss Pope, and Rose­mary Dinch, his grand­mother, in con­nec­tion with the dis­ap­pear­ance. Mr Elsey, who is study­ing drama, was an ex­tra in Dunkirk, the Sec­ond World War film that was re­leased in July.

Mrs Dinch said Miss Pope had vis­ited her house in an ag­i­tated state around the time she dis­ap­peared. Speak­ing to re­porters be­fore her ar­rest, she de­scribed how Miss Pope had banged on her front door ask­ing for help.

She said: “She looked up­set. Very up­set. I am just so pleased be­cause I gave her a cud­dle and then she re­sponded. Of course I want to find her and I have no idea where she is. She just seems to have dis­ap­peared.”

Af­ter ques­tion­ing the pair, po­lice re­leased them un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dozens of lo­cal peo­ple have been in­volved in the search for Miss Pope – who suf­fers from se­vere epilepsy and was not thought to have her med­i­ca­tion with her when she went miss­ing.

In a state­ment last night, her fam­ily urged peo­ple not to give up hope, de­spite the de­vel­op­ments in the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They said: “The mas­sive ef­fort to find Gaia has been great com­fort in what every­one will un­der­stand is a deeply wor­ry­ing and scary ex­pe­ri­ence for all who love Gaia so deeply.

“We un­der­stand that the po­lice con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios, and we want to em­pha­sise that the search for Gaia con­tin­ues.”

The state­ment went on: “We are aware of the ar­rests that have taken place but want to em­pha­sise that these must not put a stop to the search un­til or un­less there is a def­i­nite con­clu­sion. If any­one knows where Gaia is we beg you to let us know.”

‘We are aware of the ar­rests but these must not put a stop to the search un­less there is a def­i­nite con­clu­sion’

“To Gaia. We all love you for­ever. We miss you be­yond words. We will find you dar­ling girl. The thought of see­ing the sun­shine of your smile again soon keeps us all go­ing and hop­ing.”

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Neil Devoto, who is lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said pre­vi­ously: “Her dis­ap­pear­ance is com­pletely out of char­ac­ter and, fol­low­ing our ex­ten­sive in­quiries, we sadly now be­lieve that she may have come to harm.

“We have not yet found Gaia and our searches will con­tinue.”

Gaia was last seen at an ad­dress in Manor Gar­dens in Mor­ri­son Road, Swan­age, at about 4pm on Nov 7.

She was said to be wear­ing a red checked shirt with white but­tons, grey and white wo­ven leg­gings and white train­ers at the time.

De­tec­tives have ar­rested a 19-year-old man and his grand­mother on sus­pi­cion of the mur­der of Gaia Pope, above

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