Police study CCTV film in hunt for missing girl

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The Independent Online

Surveillance film that may contain pictures of the missing teenager Amanda Dowler moments before she disappeared is being studied by detectives.

Police are hoping that the closed-circuit television footage from a building on Amanda's short route home from school may provide clues to the whereabouts of the 13-year-old.

The search continued into its fifth day yesterday as scores of police and members of the public scoured the neighbourhood in the Surrey commuter belt town of Walton-on-Thames.

Amanda – known to her family and friends as Milly – disappeared on her way home from school on Thursday, after leaving the 1,300-pupil Heathside school in Weybridge with a friend. They caught a train to Walton-on-Thames, visited the Travellers' Cafe where they bought some chips, and then set off home separately at 4.05pm.

Detectives have been studying CCTV film from the Birds Eye Wall's premises, which is situated on Station Avenue, the route Amanda would have taken.

Steve Willett, the technical services director at the firm, said officers had asked to see film taken by a security camera positioned outside the building, trained on the entrance and the street. Detectives believe the footage could contain pictures of Amanda as she walked past the building on what would have been a 20-minute walk from the railway station.

Last night, her family also released a video of Amanda playing the saxophone at home and a second clip of her laughing and joking while doing some ironing in their sitting room.

Meanwhile police officers carried on with their house-to-house inquiries and conducted fingertip searches of wasteland, the town's railway line, a building site and rubbish tip along the route the 13-year-old was to have walked.

Firefighters dredged waterways near her home and crawled hundreds of yards through water-filled tunnels running under pavements in the continuing search yesterday. A number of local people joined the search, and teams of her schoolfriends covered the neighbourhood in posters and banners appealing for information.

Amanda's headteacher, Glyn Willoughby, who is a family friend, said the entire community was working together to find her.

Mr Willoughby, the principal at Heathside School in Weybridge, said: "We are assisting the police and Amanda's family as much as we can and our thoughts are with them at this time. We are hoping there will be good news and Milly will be found safe and well.

"Amanda is a bright, cheerful, kind and extremely popular girl who is well liked by students and staff.

"She is also a talented and skilled musician who plays saxophone and she took part in the Weybridge music festival only about a fortnight ago."

The community was "in limbo" while it waited, Mr Willoughby said. "Although we are quite a large school, we are a close-knit community. Her mother works here and our families are close personal friends. My two daughters are at this school and our two families have been on holiday together. So on all fronts everyone is wanting to do whatever is possible."

The headteacher said the school had received scores of calls from parents wanting to know what help they could offer to find Amanda during the school's Easter holiday.

On Sunday her parents, Robert, 50, and Sally Dowler, 42, made a tearful public appeal for information to help trace their daughter. They said finding her alive was "the only thing that keeps us going". They told a news conference they were "numb with worry", and it was out of character for Amanda to go anywhere without letting them know.