A fresh wave of searches for missing Castlederg teenager who disappeared 17 years ago after a night out in Bundoran began yesterday morning in multiple locations around the Castlederg area.
The PSNI 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 went missing on August 14, 1994 after attending a disco in Bundoran was last spotted getting into a car driven by convicted killer, child abuser and rapist, Robert Howard.
Howard was charged with her murder but was acquitted in 2005.
Kathleen Arkinson said her family still believed “120 per cent” that Howard had murdered her sister and had appealed to her sister’s suspected killer to tell them where he buried Arlene, so she can be laid to rest.
Kathleen 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.”
Yesterday morning a team of police officers and specialist dogs started searches on land at Scraghy Road between Castlederg and Ederney, Co. Fermanagh, where Arlene was last seen in the early hours of August 14, 1994.
Police said this was the beginning of a strategy which would be progressed at a number of locations in the “Castlederg area and beyond over the coming months”.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said Arlene’s family “had been in torment for 17 years” and that police wanted to do everything they possibly could to bring closure.
“Arlene’s sisters and brothers have suffered for too long, we owe it to Arlene and to her family to do our utmost to bring her home and to bring her killer to justice,” he said.
Det. Supt. Murray added that although the police investigation had been extensive and there had been a court case, he did not rule out the possibility that there was “information in the local community which still has not been provided to detectives”.
“This may be for a variety of reasons - people may not have had confidence in police all those years ago or they may have been frightened for other reasons,” he added.
“I want to assure anyone with information that they can talk to detectives who will engage with them sensitively and professionally.”
Kathleen Arkinson added that the whole family are hopeful on a breakthrough on a this terrible act that has haunted them for the last 17 years.
She said: “This day marks a special date for the Arkinson family for another reason - it’s my late father’s birthday. He would have been 70 if he were still alive
“Arlene is lying out there and it’s not fair and all we want to do is bring her home and bury her and put her along with her mother and father and our other sister Mary who passed away in 2002,” she said.