Sarah Benford: Police still receive regular calls on murder of girl, 14

  • Published
Sarah BenfordImage source, Northants Police
Image caption,
Sarah Benford was last seen in Kettering town centre on 6 April 2000

An investigation into the unsolved murder of a 14-year-old girl 20 years ago is receiving tip-offs from the public each month, police said.

Sarah Benford vanished after leaving her Northampton care home in April 2000 and a murder case began in 2003.

Her body has never been found, but Det Sgt Julie Gallagher said people were still ringing with potential locations to help find Sarah.

"This is definitely one [case] the public want to help with," she added.

Sarah was last seen by her mother in Kettering, Northamptonshire, on 6 April 2000, two days after absconding from her care home.

She was wearing patchwork dark blue jeans, an orange fleece, black down-filled jacket, cream trainers and was carrying a navy and green rucksack.

Police have taken about 800 statements and have more than 1,000 documents, while eight people have previously been arrested in connection with the case.

Image caption,
Police searching for Sarah's body in woods at Warkton in 2016 - an area used by some of her "associates" to "dispose of stolen property"

In 2016, police searched a woodland area near Kettering but did not find Sarah's body.

Ms Gallagher said Northamptonshire Police regularly received new information from the public, including potential sightings, information about where she spent her final days or where her body may be.

"It's good information but unfortunately it's not led to us finding Sarah - but I think if people are really keen to keep phoning in eventually we will get that line of inquiry and we will locate her," said Ms Gallagher.

Finding the body would be "an extra piece in the jigsaw" that would "link up who we know was around that area", she said.

Image source, Northants Police
Image caption,
A family video shows Sarah singing and dancing about 18 months before she disappeared

"Ultimately I want to find Sarah's body for her family, but secondly I want to make sure the person who did this is brought to justice."

One line of inquiry has surrounded child sexual exploitation, but Ms Gallagher said it was "certainly not the main one".

"I know somebody in Kettering knows where she spent her last few hours or few days," she said.

"It must be weighing on their mind and I want them to call in and speak to me."

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