Police were last night hunting for a 14-year-old girl who is believed to have run off with a 46-year-old man.
Stacey Marie Champ went missing from her home in Gillingham, Kent, on Thursday. Police say they are "extremely concerned" for her and have launched a nationwide search.
They fear she is with David Milner, who worked with her mother and became friendly with the family about 18 months ago. He recently withdrew £1,000 from his bank account and detectives are worried that the pair may try to leave the country.
Stacey's mother, Angela, 33, yesterday tearfully appealed for her daughter to come home. "I just want you to come home, you're not in any trouble, just come home," she said at a police press conference.
"I love you and I miss you. Max, your cat, is missing you like crazy. Just let me know you're OK."
She then had to be helped from the press conference by a woman police officer.
Inspector Richard Watson of Medway police said there were concerns about the nature of Mr Milner's relationship with Stacey.
"Before they ran away, there was no indication their relationship was anything more than amicable," he told the press conference in Rochester. "Concerns have now been raised about an alleged sexual relationship."
He added that officers were "extremely concerned" for Stacey's welfare. The suggestion that the couple may try to leave the country had come from her friends at Upbury Manor grammar school.
He added that Mr Milner was believed to be using a white Ford Escort van - registration number W639 RGE - with the name Beach Communications written on the side. But police also stressed that they were keen to trace a blue Proton - registration number G60 SKE - and a red, five-door Ford Escort, registration number M69 WJN.
Inspector Watson said it was thought that Mr Milner had access to both vehicles. He said Stacey appeared to have taken a mobile phone with her, but it was switched off, and he urged her to call police.
"Please make contact with us. We need to make sure that you are OK. If you want to ring mum or a local police station then that is OK," he said. "Just make contact with us Stacey, you haven't done anything wrong. We just want to know you are safe."
Stacey is 5ft 3in, has long, light brown hair with blonde streaks and was wearing blue jeans, white AirTech trainers and a blue baseball cap. Other clothes are also missing from her home, police said.
Mr Milner is described as slim, 5ft 8in, and has short dark hair with a "five o'clock shadow". He wears black rimmed metal glasses and has a Manchester accent.
Stacey's father, who does not live with her mother but also comes from the Gillingham area, has been informed of the search for his daughter.
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