Family want search for teenager to continue
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.
A police dog is used in Swanage after two arrests in connection with the missing teenager Gaia Pope, left Main