Monday 23 September 2019

Schoolgirl's murder probe finds other women's blood

Arlene Arkinson disappeared aged 15 in 1994 after a night out at a disco in Donegal
Arlene Arkinson disappeared aged 15 in 1994 after a night out at a disco in Donegal

Michael McHugh

Specimens of blood belonging to two women have been discovered by police probing the murder of a schoolgirl in Northern Ireland.

Arlene Arkinson, 15, disappeared from Co Tyrone 20 years ago but her body has never been recovered. In 2005 convicted child killer Robert Howard, who was the last person seen with her, was found not guilty of murder.

The blood was found during a 2012 search at a derelict flat in the victim's home town of Castlederg. Tests confirmed the specimens were not from Arlene but neither registered on a DNA database.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Superintendent Karen Baxter said: "On the 20th anniversary of Arlene's disappearance, I would ask that any woman who was in this flat, at 49a Main Street which has since been demolished, at any time to make contact with police.

"They have a story to tell and we want to hear it. Their assistance could be beneficial to the investigation."

Arlene went missing in August 1994 after a night out at a disco across the Irish border in Co Donegal.

Howard was acquitted by a jury unaware of his history of sex attacks and conviction for murdering south London teenager Hannah Williams in 2001.

The 69-year-old is serving a life sentence at HMP Frankland in County Durham.

Police in Northern Ireland have said they interviewed a man in England as part of a new hunt for Arlene.

A small team of officers will conduct land searches in parts of Tyrone and other locations over coming months. They will be assisted by body recovery dogs.

Ms Baxter added: "This investigation will continue. It will be progressed as far as we can take it."

She acknowledged the victim's family's pain but said police alone could not resolve the case or find Arlene.

"It is only with the help of the public that the person responsible will be brought to justice and the Arkinson family will find any degree of comfort."

She said the family was being kept informed.

"We understand as much as we can their continuing grief and frustration.

"We will continue to do our utmost to bring this to a conclusion within an extremely complex investigative environment and diminishing opportunities. We would ask anyone with information to come forward."

The special incident room number is 028 7137 9783

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