Friday 17 August 2018

Every day since missing teen Alice Gross's disappearance is 'new agony' for parents

Margaret Davis

The parents of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross have said every day of their daughter's disappearance brings "new agony".

As a massive police hunt for the 14-year-old continues, Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross made a desperate renewed appeal for help in finding the schoolgirl.

Ms Hodgkiss, who is a teacher, said: "This has obviously been a very distressing time for the whole family and every morning as Alice's disappearance grows longer and longer brings new agony, new anguish.

"We're coping as best we can and we're trying to keep hopeful.

Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. Gross Family/PA Wire
Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. Gross Family/PA Wire
Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. :Gross Family/PA Wire
Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. Gross Family/PA Wire

"We've had a lot of support from the community, our family and friends, the Facebook page and the police, and we're making an appeal today to Alice, if she can hear us, that we want her to come home, that we miss her and love her."

The couple spoke from the family home in Hanwell, west London, as police staged a reconstruction of the route that Alice was last seen walking, four weeks on from her disappearance.

She was captured on CCTV at 4.26pm on August 28, walking along a towpath alongside the Grand Union Canal in west London, going under a bridge where Trumpers Way crosses the canal.

Her mother said: "We're missing everything about her. We miss her smile, her presence, her quirkiness, every single thing about her we miss, and we want her back home where she belongs."

Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. :Gross Family/PA Wire
Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. :Gross Family/PA Wire

Convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns is the prime suspect in Alice's disappearance, and Scotland Yard has come under fire for apparent delays in identifying him as a risk.

Commander Graham McNulty also admitted yesterday that British detectives would have no power to arrest him if he has fled abroad, because they have not applied for a European arrest warrant due to a lack of evidence.

Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. Gross Family/PA Wire
Undated family handout of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross. Her family has issues an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared. Gross Family/PA Wire

But Alice's parents insisted they have complete faith in the police investigation, and said they want the focus to remain on finding their daughter.

Ms Hodgkiss said: "We accept that this is just one line of inquiry. Alice is still a missing person and we want the focus today to be on Alice. We have every confidence in the police and the way that they have been handling the investigation.

"We've been kept informed at every stage of the inquiry of all the different ways in which police have been looking for Alice, and we have full confidence in the way that they have been undertaking the investigation."

Mr Gross, 60, said: "We're 100% behind the police and we know they are 100% behind us as well.

"We've been amazingly impressed by the thoroughness, the precision and care that they have taken over this case."

He added: "Everybody's doing everything they possibly can, and they're obviously doing it as quickly as they can, but it's got to be done properly."

The couple said Alice had used social media, but they had warned her of the dangers involved and did not have any particular concerns about her going online.

Her 50-year-old mother said: "Alice used social media in the way that most teenagers use social media. She was often on her phone, she was often on the internet. Quite a lot of the time she was browsing - online window shopping. She took a lot of selfies.

"But we don't have any particular concerns. Like any other parent we talked about the dangers of online use."

Alice's father said: "We made sure that she was well aware of what the issues could be."

Police are currently staging a search which is the largest use of such resources since the aftermath of the July 7 bombings, with hundreds of officers involved in an operation that includes scouring dozens of miles of waterways and riverbanks.

The couple made renewed appeals for anyone with information to come forward.

Ms Hodgkiss said: " If you saw anything at all on that day, or if you know anything at all about what might have happened to her or about where she might be, (we ask) that you come forward now.

"It's four weeks now since she disappeared and obviously we get more and more worried about her welfare and more desperate really. So please if you do know anything, please bring that information forward to the police."

Mr Gross added: "No matter how insignificant you think it might be, please do come forward. Don't hold back, anything is better than nothing."

Keen musician Alice, who had been on a songwriting course in Camden, north London, in the weeks before she disappeared, would fill the family home with music, they said.

"She's talented and she's smart. Obviously we've talked about her music and how much she enjoyed songwriting, and that creates a lot of silence in the house with her absence," her mother said.

"But it's also just her laughter. She is a funny, quirky character."

Yellow ribbons festoon the area of west London where the family live, along with posters highlighting the teenager's disappearance.

Press Association

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