Forty different sites have been identified as possible locations for the resting place of the body of Arlene Arkinson.
The PSNI have told the family of the Castlederg teenager, who went missing 17 years ago, that they have drawn up a search plan following discussions with detectives in England who brought the man suspected of killing her to justice for a child murder in London.
Robert Howard (67), who was convicted of murdering schoolgirl Hannah Williams in London, stood trial for the murder of Arlene but was acquitted in 2005. The trial jury was unaware that at the time Howard was already serving a life sentence for killing 14 year-old Hannah.
Convicted rapist and child murderer Howard is suspected of kidnapping and killing Arlene after she accepted a lift from him following a disco in Bundoran in 1994. That was the last time she was ever seen. This Saturday marks the 17th anniversary of Arlene’s disappearance.
The fresh wave of searches for the missing teenager are set to begin on August 31 - a date which would have marked the 70th birthday of her late father Willie who died in 2008. The searches are to focus on Castlederg and the surrounding area.
Following a meeting on Wednesday with the officer heading up the investigation into her sister’s death, Kathleen Arkinson - who was accompanied by her sister Paula - appealed for the public to pray for their missing sister.
“We would ask that everyone stop for five minutes on Saturday and say a wee prayer that they find Arlene soon so that we can bury her with her mother and father and her sister Mary.”
She added: “They’re going to send out 40 different searches in Northern Ireland. I’ll be there every minute of every day those searches are going on. I’m really excited but also scared at being disappointed.”
She said that she believes the Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, who is heading up the operation, is doing everything possible to find Arlene.
“I think Mr Murray is 100% genuine in helping us trying to find Arlene. I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve done that before. But I have confidence this time because the police have co-operated with police in England.”
She said she could not comment on why the search, which was called off in January, was not set to resume until the end of August.
Kathleen thanked everyone for their support, thoughts and prayers and said the family remain determined to bring Arlene home. “ “We just have to keep have to keep going - to keep pushing and pushing. We only need one clue to help us find Arlene.”