Murder charge filed in missing girl case

Oct. 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM
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MACHYNLLET, Wales, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A family friend was charged Saturday with killing a 5-year-old girl who vanished Monday from her home in Machynllet, Wales.

April Jones was still missing five days after her disappearance, The Daily Telegraph reported. But Dyfed and Powys police are treating the investigation as a murder case.

Mark Bridger, 46, was formally charged with murder, child abduction and perverting the course of justice. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday in Aberystwyth.

Coral Jones, April's mother, in a Facebook message posted by her niece, Mel Moon, said her daughter might still be alive: "I am not giving up hope and have not been told my daughter is dead yet. Please stay hopeful!"

A massive search in Machynllet, a market town in central Wales, included cadaver-sniffing dogs, a small boat equipped with sonar on the River Dyfi, 60 police officers, members of mountain rescue units, Coast Guard members and hundreds of volunteers. The search was focused on the town, where April lived with her family, and Bridger's farmhouse in Ceinws, 5 miles away, The Independent said.

April was last seen Monday getting into a car near her home.

A magistrate in Aberystwyth ruled Friday police can hold Bridger until Saturday afternoon before charging or releasing him.

Bridger, 46, a former construction and slaughterhouse worker, had a former girlfriend who lived near the Jones family. He took April on a crabbing expedition with two of his children in August.

"Nobody in the family thought anything of it at the time -- the kids love going crabbing in the summer," a relative said. "But it means the police will definitely find forensic evidence of April in his Land Rover."

Bridger was arrested Tuesday near the Dyfi about 90 minutes after witnesses reported seeing a man carrying a black bag.

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