Police find blue material they believe is part of Sarah's dress

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The Independent Online

Police have found a scrap of blue cloth they believe may be from the dress worn by the murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, whose naked body was discovered last Monday after an agonising two-week search.

Police have found a scrap of blue cloth they believe may be from the dress worn by the murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, whose naked body was discovered last Monday after an agonising two-week search.

Forensic experts were yesterday examining the cloth found near the field where Sarah's body was discovered. Police said DNA testing could confirm the origin of the fragment and that other DNA traces could help catch her killer. Sarah was last seen wearing a blue Fred Perry-style dress on July 1.

Nick Sandford, spokesman for Sussex police, said: "The material was found at Bramber and we are working to try to confirm whether it is linked with our case or not. Searches are continuing in that area."

The castle at Bramber is only a few miles south-west of North Heath, near Pulborough, West Sussex, where Sarah's body was found. Part of a shoe was also discovered in a different location, but police yesterday said it had not belonged to the murdered girl.

Last Thursday a black shoe was found by a woman 200 yards south of the A272 road in Coolham, West Sussex. Police officers sealed off the A272 and part of the B2139 between Thakeham and Coolham following the find. Police said it was possible the shoe had been tossed from a moving car.

On Saturday evening, three weeks after Sarah's disappearance, roadblocks were set up by police on the A29 and stayed until yesterday evening.

Detectives also questioned people at local events, including a car boot sale at the Toat Cafe on the A29, a mile south of where the body was found.

Mr Sandford said the operation to question motorists on the A29 overnight had been worthwhile: "We completed just under 2,000 [roadside interviews] and it has been very successful," he said. "It's too early to say at this stage whether we have got any significant information, although there has been information passed to us that we will be doing research on. Members of the public have been very supportive."

Attempts to find crucial witnesses continue after a millionaire farmer dropped his claim for £10,000 compensation for damage caused to his crops when police searched his land for the eight-year-old.

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