Fam­ily want search for teenager to con­tinue

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Steven Morris

The fam­ily of a vul­ner­a­ble young woman who has been miss­ing for more than a week called yes­ter­day for the search to con­tinue even though two peo­ple have been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of her mur­der.

Rel­a­tives of Gaia Pope said they still hoped the 19-year-old would be found alive and said the thought of see­ing her smile again kept them hop­ing.

Po­lice ar­rested a 71-year-old woman and 19-year-old man over the dis­ap­pear­ance of Pope, who went miss­ing from the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset on 7 Novem­ber. The woman was re­leased un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion while the man re­mained in cus­tody, help­ing po­lice with their in­quiries.

It is un­der­stood the pair are re­lated and po­lice were search­ing the homes of both.

Yes­ter­day Pope’s fam­ily re­leased a state­ment that made it clear they still considered it a miss­ing per­son rather than a mur­der in­quiry.

It said: “We un­der­stand that the po­lice con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios, and we want to em­pha­sise that the search for Gaia con­tin­ues. We will be re­leas­ing in­for­ma­tion on the Find Gaia Face­book page re­gard­ing fur­ther vol­un­teer search sup­port. Please keep an eye out for re­quests for fur­ther search sup­port.

“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.”

Ad­dress­ing Pope di­rectly, the fam­ily added: “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.”

Pope, who is from the vil­lage of Lang­ton Ma­travers, was stay­ing at an ad­dress in nearby Swan­age when she dis­ap­peared. She has epilepsy and is be­lieved to have gone miss­ing with­out her med­i­ca­tion.

The two peo­ple ar­rested have not been named, but are from the Swan­age area.

Hun­dreds of lo­cal peo­ple have helped the po­lice, coast­guards and other search and res­cue teams look for Pope.

Se­nior in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Neil Devoto said the last re­ported sight­ing of Pope was at an ad­dress in Manor Gar­dens on Mor­ri­son Road at about 4pm on 7 Novem­ber. She was said to be wear­ing a red checked shirt with white but­tons, grey and white wo­ven leg­gings and white train­ers.

He said: “We have looked through CCTV that cov­ers the Swan­age area, in­clud­ing trans­port hubs, and there is noth­ing to sug­gest she has left the area. Her dis­ap­pear­ance is com­pletely out of char­ac­ter and, fol­low­ing our in­quiries, we sadly now be­lieve that she may have come to harm.”

Gaia’s older sis­ter, Clara Pope-Suther­land, 21, made a spread­sheet list­ing nearly 70 lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing cliffs, wood­lands and beaches that needed to be checked. Last week, she said: “Gaia is … not the kind of per­son to go off like this. We’re all very wor­ried about her as she has very se­vere epilepsy and is with­out her med­i­ca­tion.”

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to con­tact Dorset po­lice.

pho­to­graph: Andrew Matthews/PA

A po­lice dog is used in Swan­age af­ter two ar­rests in con­nec­tion with the miss­ing teenager Gaia Pope, left Main

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