UK: Hundreds continue search for missing girl April Jones

THE abduction of a five-year-old girl last night is “every family’s worst nightmare”, police said today.

Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan, from Dyfed Powys Police, told a media conference today that getting “vital” information from the children who witnessed April Jones getting into a van yesterday evening is a “delicate and time-consuming” task.

April was last seen by another child getting into the driver’s side of a grey van which drove off in the Mid Wales town of Machynlleth at about 7pm last night.

Mr Bevan told reporters: “Clearly, it would be every family’s worst nightmare to suffer a child going missing in these circumstances.”

He emphasised the difficulties of getting accurate information from the young children who were playing with April when she disappeared.

“I am mindful that we are still in the process of speaking to these children,” he said.

“That is delicate and time-consuming. We are trying to extract exactly what they have seen and we are very anxious to provide the most accurate information we can without misleading anyone in any way.”

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The description so far of the van the youngster was seen getting into is a grey vehicle, small at the front and large at the back, Mr Bevan said.

“That could be interpreted as something small to a Ford Connect van, something like a Land Rover, and also that April got into the driver’s side.

“That may well be that she got into the driver’s seat, or it could mean that it is a left-hand drive vehicle.

“The colour has not changed, that’s as we initially gave it - grey.”

He repeated earlier pleas for any information, no matter how small.

Mr Bevan said the force would be combing through CCTV, both municipal and private, to find clues about the abduction of the five-year-old.

Mr Bevan said they could not say for sure whether April was led to the vehicle or went there herself, but added: “The indications are that she got into the vehicle willingly.”

Asked if there were any signs that there was a struggle, he said: “It’s very difficult to give an exact account of what happened. There’s nothing to suggest at this stage that there was a struggle when she got into the car.”

He said they had a “very early” initial description of the suspect, but was not comfortable to release it at this stage.

The force is concentrating searches and efforts in the immediate area, on the advice of experts, he said, and is also re-interviewing child witnesses, carrying out house-to-house inquiries, and searching CCTV.

Mr Bevan said police were alerted last night, and it was “pretty soon after that” that the incident was being treated as an abduction.

He said April was with friends yesterday evening, “some of whom left earlier and there’s certainly one individual that was with her when the abduction took place”.

He said the children were providing police with “vital information”.

“She was last seen just around 7pm when she got into the vehicle I have described,” he said.

“I am unable to be specific on exactly the circumstances because obviously what we have got is the initial account from a child witness but the indications are that she got into the vehicle willingly,” Mr Bevan said.

Asked what the next step in the investigation would be, Mr Bevan said: “Obviously we have got to re-interview the child witnesses, we have got a number of people who live in the area, the traditional house to house inquiries.

“As has been mentioned in my previous statement, obviously we have got CCTV both municipal and private.

“We have got a number of cameras that cover road networks so we are pursuing all the obvious lines of inquiry.”

The force has also released three pictures of brown-haired April and urged anyone with information about her disappearance to come forward. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.