Parents plead for safe release of Welsh girl as search intensifies
THE DISTRAUGHT parents of five-year-old Welsh girl April Jones, who has been missing since she got into a van just yards from her home on Monday evening, last night pleaded for the person who took her to let “our beautiful little girl come home”.
Hundreds of people who have volunteered to search for her were ordered by police, who are “extremely concerned” about the missing child’s welfare, to stop last night to allow police helicopters and specialist search-and-rescue teams freedom to use thermal-imaging cameras in a bid to find her.
The development in the search came just hours after a 46-year-old father of two, Mark Bridger, reported to be known to the missing girl’s family and who lives on a nearby street, was arrested yesterday afternoon outside Machynlleth in Powys in Mid-Wales.
He was identified by locals, but not by police.
Held in Aberystwyth, he can be questioned for 96 hours. Det Supt Reg Bevan of Dyfed-Powys police said Mr Bridger was arrested walking outside the town yesterday afternoon. “We are hopeful that will assist us in finding April.”
The girl went missing just yards from her home in the Bryn Y Gog estate shortly after 7pm on Monday evening, 10 minutes after she had returned with her parents, Coral and Paul, and 10-year-old sister, Harley, from a parent-teacher meeting.
Det Supt Bevan read a short statement from her parents: “Last night, our lives were shattered when our beautiful little girl who was playing with friends was taken from us. We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please, please, if you have our little girl, let her come home to us.”
Locals gathered in the town’s St Peter’s Church last night for prayers. “As a community, we are facing an awful time and are in a very bad place. We need time to collect our thoughts and to place April, her family and ourselves in God’s hands,” Rev Kathleen Rogers said.
During the day, hundreds of locals, and others who had travelled long distances, gathered at the town’s leisure centre to be formed into groups of 20 and partnered with a mountain rescue expert before being sent to search the difficult countryside.
The alarm was raised after 7.30pm on Monday by April’s seven-year-old next-door neighbour, Millie Hearne, who told police April climbed into the right-hand side of a grey van. Yesterday, it emerged police were seeking a left-hand drive vehicle. She had been playing with friends.