New search begins for Arlene‘s body

A fresh wave of searches for missing Castlederg teenager who disappeared 17 years ago is due to begin tomorrow.

The PSNI have told the family of Arlene Arkinson that they plan to carry out up to 40 new searches for the missing schoolgirl - many of them in the Castlederg area.

The 15-year-old from Castlederg went missing on August 14, 1994 after attending a disco in Bundoran.

Convicted killer, child abuser and rapist Robert Howard (67) was charged with her murder 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 Williams from south London.

It’s understood that officers investigating the case have been in contact with officers involved in the probe into the killing of the London teenager - whose body was found in a cement works in Northfleet in Kent in March 2002 - as part of their enquires.

Kathleen Arkinson said her family still believed “120 per cent” that Howard had murdered her sister. Kathleen has often appealed to her sister’s suspected killer to tell them where he buried Arlene, so she can be laid to rest.

A planned search in January was postponed due to severe weather conditions.

Kathleen is to be joined at the first search site tomorrow morning by her sisters two sisters and two brothers, who are travelling from England and Scotland.

She said that the whole family is “anxious and nervous” about the searches.

“It’s a terrible feeling not knowing what will happen - thoughts are just going around and around in my head.

“We really hope that this time we can find Arlene so we can bury her and get some closure.”

Tomorrow marks a special date for the Arkinson family for another reason.

Kathleen said: “That’s my late father’s birthday. He would have been 70 if he were still alive.

Kathleen said the PSNI told her that “they’re going to send out 40 different searches in Northern Ireland”.

Asked about whether the scale of the search made her optimistic, she was hesitant. “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.”

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.”

A jury, which was unaware oh his previous conviction, acquitted Howard of Arlene’s murder at a trial in Belfast in 2005.