Police still seeking boys after murder of girl, 9

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The Independent Online
The nine-year-old girl found battered to death on a railway line may have been with a teenage boy on a bicycle shortly before she died, it was revealed yesterday.

A girl that matched the description of Jade Matthews was reported riding with a slight head wound and blood on her teeth with the boy, who is believed to be about 13, close to the spot her body was found in Bootle, Merseyside.

News of the sighting came as her natural father, Alan Priest, 34, was released after 30 hours of questioning. Detectives are still seeking three boys, aged nine to 14 who were seen on the railway line at about 8pm on Sunday, around the time of the murder.

Merseyside police announced that Mr Priest had been released as Jade's mother, Denise Matthews, 31, made an emotional appeal at a news conference for her daughter's killer to be caught.

Detectives revealed at the conference that Jade could have been at an underpass a short distance from the railway sidings with the boy at 5.25pm.

A girl, with a slight head injury, answering Jade's description was on the seat of a black mountain bike being pushed by the brown-haired boy of medium build, said Det. Supt. Geoff MacDonald, the officer leading the murder inquiry. The girl had not been crying and was not in distress, according to the report. He said the girl fitted Jade's physical description accurately, although her clothes were not exactly the same.

"We don't know who she is. It may be Jade, it may be another girl," he said. "We are very anxious to trace her or anyone who saw her."

Jade's body was found on railway sidings at 1.20am on Monday. A wooden post had been used to kill her. She was last seen on Sunday afternoon and was murdered some time after leaving three friends with whom she had been playing near her home in Eaton Avenue, Bootle.