Gaia Pope has been missing for ten days and her family fear her epilepsy may have played a role in her disappearance.
Gaia Pope has been missing for ten days and her family fear her epilepsy may have played a role in her disappearance.

TEENAGE MYSTERY: Third arrest over missing teen

A THIRD member of one family has been arrested as police desperately search for a UK teenager who has been missing for ten days.

Dorset teen Gaia Pope, 19, suffers from severe epilepsy and was last seen on November 7 at an address in Manor Gardens in the coastal UK town of Swanage, her family said.

On Thursday, police arrested 49-year-old man, Paul Elsey, who was known to Gaia, on suspicion of murder and also found clothes in a clifftop spot near her family home.

He was reportedly released just hours later.

Elsey was the third person to be arrested in connection with Gaia's disappearance. On Monday, his mother Rosemary Dinch, 71, and nephew, Nathan Elsey, 19, were also arrested on suspicion of murder but released without charge.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain on Friday, Gaia's father Richard Sutherland said he feared his teen daughter's epilepsy had "played a big part" in her disappearance.

"There's a lot to say about her, she is a typical teenager in many ways," he said.

"She has a great spirit, she has a big heart, she is a very loving girl.

"She had great ambitions in her life to be in nursing or in some sort of health and social care and for a while now, the epilepsy has been holding her back.

"It's entirely possible that her epilepsy has played a big part in this, and that has meant it's been more difficult to find her."

A massive search orchestrated by friends and family is underway for the epileptic teen who may be in distress. Picture: Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.
A massive search orchestrated by friends and family is underway for the epileptic teen who may be in distress. Picture: Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

The last confirmed sighting of the teen showed her on CCTV running towards Rosemary Dinch's home on Tuesday November 7 around 3:39pm.

Her family said she left that address around 4pm and was last seen wearing a "black fur-trimmed jacket, grey leggings, white trainers."

Further CCTV footage taken less than an hour before she disappeared and released by police show her buying an ice cream in a petrol station.

Dorset Police's senior investigating officer Neil Devoto said: "We believe Gaia was wearing the same grey and white woven leggings and white trainers, but was last seen in a red checked shirt with white buttons. When she disappeared she was not wearing the black jacket pictured, which was recovered at an address in Manor Gardens.

Gaia Pope at a petrol station less than an hour before she was last seen. Picture: Dorset Police.
Gaia Pope at a petrol station less than an hour before she was last seen. Picture: Dorset Police.

On Thursday items of clothing were found in a field by a member of the public. The clothes have not yet been identified but Gaia's family have been told about the discovery.

Officer Devoto said the discovery will lead to a full search of the field and surrounding area.

"We have updated Gaia's family who continue to be supported by specially-trained officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this very difficult time," he said.

Police search a clifftop near where clothing was found. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images.
Police search a clifftop near where clothing was found. Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

THREE MEMBERS OF ONE FAMILY ARRESTED

Earlier this week, police searched two addresses in Swanage and seized three vehicles.

Rosemary Dinch, 71, and her grandson, Nathan Elsey, 19, who is understood to be a friend of Gaia's, were arrested on suspicion of murder but released under investigation.

Gaia's family have thanked police and searchers for their efforts and were forced to plead with people to keep social media "to constructive and positive efforts" rather than "uninformed speculation."

"If anyone knows where Gaia is we beg you to let us know," the family said.

"To Gaia. We all love you forever. We miss you beyond words. We will find you darling girl. The thought of seeing the sunshine of your smile again soon keeps us all going and hoping."

They have also created a public Find Gaia Facebook group to co-ordinate search efforts and raise funds, encouraging people to "search under hedges and in gardens" as she is epileptic and may have had a seizure.

A large-scale search of the coastline and water has also been carried out by Dorset Search and Rescue, the coastguard, NPAS helicopter and specialist units from neighbouring police forces.



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