Police begin search of building site after new lead in hunt for Danielle

Click to follow

Police began searching a building site yesterday for remains of Danielle Jones, almost two months after she disappeared on her way to school.

There is little hope that she is still alive. The 15-year-old's mother, Linda, admits she holds out only the "minutest" hope of seeing her daughter alive again, as police began digging at the foundations of a new housing development.

Specialist search teams spent yesterday carrying out a "meticulous and painstaking" search at a one-acre site in Grays, Essex, within a mile of the last unconfirmed sighting of the teenager.

A dozen police officers began sifting through rubble and demolishing house foundations at the new development in Connaught Avenue after receiving "significant" new information. Soil samples and fragments of bone and clothing were sent for analysis, though officers did not feel they necessarily provided any new leads.

The "shy" girl was last seen as she walked to catch her school bus near her home in East Tilbury, Essex, on 18 June.

Two male schoolfriends saw her abruptly turn away from the bus stop while other witnesses saw a girl matching her description arguing with a white man in his 30s before getting into a blue Transit-style van.

The last sighting of her, although unconfirmed, was in London Road, Grays. Detectives believe the youngster was abducted and did not run away.

For more than seven hours yesterday, officers searched a large mound of earth, the concrete foundations of one house, and the foundations and first floor of a second house.

Inspector Alan Cook, of Essex Police, said: "All our searches previously have been based on radiuses working outwards from Danielle's home and also where we had the last positive sighting of her."

"We have had specific information that says we should be working here. We feel this is a significant site though we cannot give details about the information that has led us here.

"We are at this building site to see if we can find any trace of where Danielle or her belongings might have been since 18 June."

He added: "It is an incredibly complex site. There has been a lot of earth movement and building taking place in the last eight weeks."

If senior officers decide to proceed after these initial investigations, police could return with X-ray and radar equipment to detect recent earth movements or buried objects, along with dog teams and forensic archaeologists.