Police are searching for a body at a cafe in Gloucester linked to the case of a teenager who has been missing since 1968, and was feared murdered by notorious serial killer Fred West.
Gloucestershire Police said they had found evidence remains could be buried within The Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street, and are linking it to the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm.
The police force said its major crime investigation team was following up on new evidence in the case, with officers expected to be at the cafe for weeks.
Family liaison officers have been put in place to provide support and updates to Mary’s family. She was reported missing on 6 January 1968 and has never been found.
West, who died in prison in 1995 at the age of 53, was previously suspected over her disappearance.
Assistant chief constable Craig Holden said: “This could be a significant development on a case which has gained a lot of public interest over the years.”
He added: “On the basis of the information provided to us, we consider this to be new and potentially important evidence in the case of Mary Bastholm.
“However, further detailed assessments will take place over the following few days to determine the extent of excavation needed.”
The assistant chief constable added: “First and foremost our thoughts are with Mary’s family and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.”
The senior police officer said he accepted the news may cause alarm those who work near to the premises, but he asked for patience while the “proportionate investigation” took place.
“We will have local officers in the area and a visible police presence at the location possibly for a number of weeks,” said Mr Holden. “We would also encourage anyone who is affected by this news to please seek support.”
Mary was last seen waiting at a bus stop in Bristol Road in Gloucester. She had been planning to see her boyfriend in Hardwicke, after finishing work at a cafe in Southgate Street.
Police said her disappearance had previously been linked to West and there remained a suspicion that he was involved in her death.
West and his his wife Rose tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a 20-year period.
He was charged with 12 murders, but committed suicide in a Birmingham prison before his trial. Rose West was convicted of 10 murders in November 1995 and is still behind bars.