Police search for mystery second body in O'Callaghan murder case

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the killing of Sian O'Callaghan spent yesterday scouring farmland on the outskirts of another village in the Cotswolds as they hunted for a second body.

The body of Ms O'Callaghan, 22, was found by police on Thursday afternoon near the Oxfordshire village of Uffington, shortly after the arrest of a 47-year-old taxi driver who has been named locally as Chris Halliwell.

He has been arrested on suspicion of kidnap and two counts of murder. Magistrates in Swindon last night granted police an extra 24 hours to question Mr Halliwell.

Wiltshire police confirmed yesterday they had been taken to the site of Ms O'Callaghan's body by the suspect himself. But detectives revealed they were also led to a second site, in Gloucestershire, where it is believed a second adult, who disappeared "several years ago", may be buried.

Detectives refused to speculate on the identity of the second victim but believe that searches will lead them to Wiltshire's "one outstanding" missing person. They would not comment on reports that the remains could belong to mother-of-three Tina Pryer, 39, who was last seen getting in a taxi in Trowbridge in 2001. They also declined to discuss reports they had been in contact with Somerset police regarding the 1996 disappearance of Melanie Hall.

The body of Swindon teacher Linda Razzell, 41, has also never been found after she went missing in 2002. Her husband Glyn was convicted of her murder but always protested his innocence.

Police spent the day searching farmland on the outskirts of Eastleach, a remote Cotswolds village. Forensic officers excavated two trenches in the corner of a field close to Baxter's Farm, five miles to the south of the town of Burford.

Julian Selby-Rickards, who lives in the village, said: "This is such a sleepy backwater sort of place. There were police helicopters flying around but we thought nothing of it until we saw the road blocks. It's desperately sad. I can only hope that if they do find someone, it will bring closure to their loved ones."

On the steps of Suju, the Swindon nightclub where Ms O'Callaghan was last seen alive early on Saturday morning, tributes and flowers piled up. "You were a great person and friend," read one note. "I knew you for 15 years since Drove Primary School and we stayed in touch since. Will remember your trademark big smile was lovely."

Police say mobile phone records have shown that Sian was in the Savernake Forest area half an hour after her disappearance, leading officers to conclude that she must have been driven there. Her body, however, was found 40 miles east, in Uffington.

Steve Fulcher, the lead detective in the inquiry, said yesterday that he thought Sian's body had been moved from the place where she was murdered. He added that officers had found CCTV images of her being abducted which helped them focus their efforts on locating a green Toyota taxi.

Post-mortem examinations were still being carried out on Ms O'Callaghan's body, he said, adding: "This is a tragic situation. I have spoken to the family ... our thoughts are with Sian and her family."