3rd Murder Arrest After Dorset Teenager Vanishes

17 November 2017, 08:10

Gaia Pope missing Dorset teenager

Detectives are continuing to question a man - on suspicion of missing Dorset teenager Gaia Pope's murder.

The 49-year-old has been in custody since Thursday afternoon on suspicion of the 19-year-old's murder.

She has not been seen since she vanished from the Swanage area on the afternoon of Tuesday 7 November.

The suspect is said to be from the Swanage area and known to Gaia - and is assisting Dorset Police with their inquiries.

The last reported sighting of Gaia was at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road at around 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.

At 10.28am on Thursday 16 November, items of women's clothing were found in a field near Swanage. The discovery was made by a member of the public in an area of open land north of the coastal path.

The owner of the clothes has not yet been identified, but detectives involved in the search for missing Gaia Pope have informed her family of this discovery.

Since her disappearance searches of the land and coastline in the Swanage and surrounding area have been ongoing involving Dorset Search and Rescue, the coastguard, NPAS helicopter and specialist units from neighbouring police forces. 

On Monday 13 November search warrants were carried out at two addresses in Swanage and searches there remain ongoing. As part of our investigations, three vehicles have been seized.

A 19-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman, both from the Swanage area, were arrested on suspicion of murder. They are both known to Gaia. Both individuals have been released under investigation.

In a statement, Gaia's family said: 

"We want to express our deepest gratitude to the police, other emergency services and the huge numbers of volunteers and well-wishers.

"The massive effort to find Gaia has been a 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.

"We will be releasing information on the Find Gaia Facebook page regarding further volunteer search support.

"Please understand that we want to keep social media to constructive and positive efforts to find Gaia and not to encourage uninformed speculation which can have a negative impact on the family and be a distraction.

"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.

"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."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting incident number 14:108. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.