Northern Ireland

Arlene Arkinson: Specialist police team to examine new Castlederg site

Arlene Arkinson
Image caption Arlene Arkinson was 15 when she went missing after a night out in Donegal in 1994

Police searching for the missing Castlederg schoolgirl Arlene Arkinson are due to bring in specialist teams to examine a new site.

The 15-year-old disappeared in 1994 after a school disco in County Donegal.

Police sealed off an area in a field near Killen, outside Castlederg, on Wednesday after a farmer alerted them to the site.

The field is about a mile from the house where the teenager was last seen alive.

It is on the same road where she was seen in a car with Robert Howard, the main suspect in her disappearance.

Dead suspect

Specialist search teams from England are due to arrive on Friday morning to assist in the operation.

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Media captionArlene's sister, Kathleen, said news of the search 'just came out of the blue'

Police have requested a number of examinations and tests, which they say may take some time.

Det Ch Supt Raymond Murray, head of Serious Crime Branch, said: "The family of Arlene Arkinson have been advised of this development purely as a precautionary measure.

"It would be premature to draw any inference from this initial report or the police response to it at this time."

Image caption The search is taking place in a field about a mile away from where Arlene Arkinson was last seen alive

Since her disappearance, a number of searches have been carried out at various locations.

Convicted child killer Howard, who died in prison in England last year, was the main suspect in the schoolgirl's disappearance.

In June 2005, Howard, then 61, was found not guilty of murdering Arlene.

The prosecution had accused him of trying to conceal his movements on the night Arlene went missing and getting others to lie for him.

Image caption Arlene Arkinson was last seen in the company of child killer Robert Howard, who was the main suspect but was acquitted of her murder

The jury did not know that by then he was already serving a life sentence for raping and killing another teenager.

Hannah Williams, from South London, went missing during a shopping trip in April 2001.

Howard was found guilty in October 2003 of raping and murdering the 14-year-old before dumping her body.

An inquest into Arlene Arkinson's death formally opened in February after years of delay and dozens of preliminary hearings.

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