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Sunday 17 December 2017

Will new search find Arlene (15) after 17 years missing?

A fresh search for the body of murdered teenager Arlene Arkinson will begin on a mountainside in Northern Ireland today. Photo: PA
A fresh search for the body of murdered teenager Arlene Arkinson will begin on a mountainside in Northern Ireland today. Photo: PA

A fresh search for the body of a murdered teenager began on a mountainside in Northern Ireland today.

The new bid to locate 15-year-old Arlene Arkinson's remains comes 17 years after she went missing after a night out across the border in the seaside town of Bundoran, Co Donegal.



Police believe the teenager from Castlederg, Co Tyrone was abducted and killed.



She was last seen in a car driven by convicted child killer Robert Howard.



In 2005, he stood trial for her murder despite the fact her body had not been found.



The 77-year-old was acquitted by a jury which was not made aware he was serving a life sentence for the 2001 murder of schoolgirl Hannah Williams, 14, from south London.



Forty sites in and around the Castlederg area are to be searched by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in an operation set to take months.



The first gets under way today on what would have been the 70th birthday of the teenager's late father Willie.



Arlene's sister Kathleen Arkinson said she was scared to build her hopes up.



"We are nervous and haven't been able to sleep," she said.



"This is happening on my late father's birthday and this is the first search without him, so we are a bit down about that too - so it's a lot of different emotions at the moment."



A PSNI team, led by Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, has spent the last six months planning the fresh searches.



As well as specialist forensic officers and sniffer dogs, the operation is being assisted by geologists, archaeologists and psychological profilers.

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