The police have issued a jubilee appeal twenty years after the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl – saying ‘Now is the time to tell’.
Sarah Benford was last seen in the Kettering area of Northamptonshire on April 6, 2000, before a murder investigation was initiated three years later.
Police detective Julie Gallagher of Northamptonshire said on the anniversary of her disappearance that officers, although they have no suspects, believe someone knows what the teen’s latest moves were.
She told the news association: “Today is the anniversary – it has been 20 years since Sarah Benford went missing. We are desperate to try to find where Sarah is.
“It is still a live investigation and we still receive regular inquiries. We are currently reviewing all lines of research to see if anything has been missed or if someone can pick up something to give us a new line of research. ‘
On the 20-year anniversary of Sarah Benford’s disappearance (photo), police are calling on everyone with information to finally come forward in a ‘time to tell’ plea
When asked about the latest development in the case, DS Gallagher said, “The latest development was 2016 when we did some searches in Kettering. We had some intelligence and we did some digging.
“Luckily we found a weapon, but we couldn’t link it to the crime scene.”
Asked if she was concerned that the matter would remain unresolved, DS Gallagher said, “I really hope it isn’t.
“I’ve been working on the case for seven years. I have no intention of going anywhere and I actively work on it every day.
“I really think there’s a chance we can find Sarah, but we need the people, especially in Kettering, to work with us – because someone knows what her last moves were, and they just need to talk to us. ‘
DS Gallagher explained what could be the motive behind the schoolgirl’s disappearance, saying, “Sarah had only recently turned 14 when she went missing – she was a child.
“I don’t know what could be someone’s motive for killing someone, especially not a child.
“Whether something went wrong, or if she was entangled somewhere in the middle – anyway, someone needs to know because we didn’t find her body, so someone’s involved.”
Benford was last seen in the Kettering area of Northamptonshire on April 6, 2000 and disappeared at the age of 14 before starting a murder investigation three years later
Asked if she had a message for someone with information, DS Gallagher said, “The time goes on, it’s been 20 years. It has to play in people’s minds.
“If there were people who didn’t commit the murder but saw something, now is the time to tell.
“We want to find Sarah and we want to take her home with her family.”
Regarding how the family has dealt with the past 20 years, she said, “Unfortunately, it will never go away for them.
‘We continue to actively investigate the research, they know that, so they are experiencing it.
“It was Sarah’s birthday a few weeks ago and then today this call – they will have to relive things.
“It must be so hard to lose a child and even harder if we haven’t been able to find out where Sarah is and have the family give her the funeral they want to say goodbye to.”
Local police insist that the historic case “not be forgotten soon” and strongly hope that she can bring Sarah to her family and close the case
Regarding the scope of the study, DS Gallagher said: ‘It has really been a large-scale study over the past twenty years.
“More than 800 statements were made, people were arrested during this investigation, and we still have a five-person team for this investigation.
“The searches have taken us to London, Wales and across the country – it’s a very big study.
“It is certainly one that will not soon be forgotten.”
DS Gallagher urged anyone with information about Sarah’s disappearance to contact Northamptonshire Police at 101 free of charge and ask for the cold case team, quoting Operation Yacht