Parents of murdered schoolgirl Danielle Jones visit garage where police fear she was buried under concrete by her ‘sexually obsessed’ uncle as it’s revealed officers were first tipped off about the plot 16 YEARS ago
- Youngster went missing from Essex home in 2001 and has not been seen since
- Her uncle was later convicted of her murder but her body has not been found
- Police today relaunched the search for her body following a tip off in the case
- The new search is said to centre on paving slabs beneath garages at the site
- Murdered girl’s mother says: ‘I miss her every minute of every day’
The parents of a schoolgirl murdered 16 years ago have made an emotional visit to garages where it is feared her body may have been secretly buried by her killer.
Danielle Jones, 15, left her home in East Tilbury, Essex in June 2001 to catch a bus to school and her parents never saw her again.
Her uncle, Stuart Campbell, was later convicted of her murder after a jury heard he had an ‘irresistible sexual attraction’ towards his niece. But the killer never revealed how he murdered Danielle or where he had hidden her body.
Police started searching garages in Stifford Clays, Thurrock, today, near where Campbell lived and where it is feared he may have buried her body beneath concrete.
Danielle’s parents, Linda and Tony Jones, visited the search site this afternoon, spending about 15 minutes near to where a police forensic tent has been put up.
Police said they received ‘non-specific information’ about the garages in 2001 but did not search the area. The garages were brought to their attention again in February this year, prompting today’s search.
Linda and Tony Jones, whose daughter was murdered 16 years ago, today visited a block of garages where police dramatically reopened the investigation into her death today
It is understood the new search came after a tip off. Danielle’s mother says she still misses her daughter every day
Police have launched a fresh search for the body of murdered schoolgirl Danielle Jones
The new search is said to centre on the concreting bases of the garages. Campbell reportedly had his own paving firm at the time.
It is understood police will begin excavating the site tonight or tomorrow morning after forensics experts carried out a fingertip search.
Danielle’s parents Linda and Tony Jones said: ‘We are extremely grateful that the police are following up this information and we know they are determined to do whatever they can to find Danielle.
‘We think about Danielle every day and we hope that this latest search may bring us answers to what happened to her 16 years ago.’
Mrs Jones previously described the pain and ‘torture’ of being able to bury her daughter.
Mrs Jones said: ‘The fact that he won’t give us that one peace. I’ve accepted that he won’t but to not be able to bury her and know where she is, is an everyday torturous position.
‘We’ve not been given the chance to say goodbye to her properly.’
Mrs Jones said even though there is no grave to visit, she is able to go to the memorial garden built at Danielle’s school.
She said: ‘For us it’s really important to have somewhere to go. As I say, normally you would have a grave, we don’t have that.
‘We’ve got all our memories indoors but I think sometimes you need somewhere to go and lay flowers and just have a bit of peace.
Danielle’s uncle Stuart Campbell was convicted of her murder in 2002 but he did not reveal where he had hidden her body
Demolition workers take down concrete garages ahead of planned excavation work today
Police are searching a garage down a side alley between two residential streets in Thurrock
The search started after a cold case review led to the garages being identified as of interest
An aerial photograph shows fencing around at least four garages where police are searching
Garage block was not one of hundreds searched at the time
More than 1,000 garages were searched after Danielle’s disappearance in 2001, but the block now being looked at was not among them.
Essex Police’s DCC Worron said the latest search could ‘conclude once and for all’ if this is where the body of the 15-year-old schoolgirl has been buried, adding that ‘any search of this kind is significant’.
Mr Worron said: ‘I do know that in 2001 that garage block had not been searched by officers.
‘This week we will conduct a search of that area to see if that is the location of where Danielle’s body has been hidden since 2001.
‘The reasons why that garage block was not searched aren’t clear to me at the moment but we are working to understand that.’
He added that how long detectives will need to search the site remains unknown as it will depend on detectives being able to ‘deconstruct and examine’ the garages.
It emerged today that police were told about the garages at the time of the original search.
A police spokesman said: ‘Some non-specific information was received in 2001 relating to this garage area, however, these garages were not searched during the 2001 investigation.
‘We are working to ascertain why these were not searched as part of the original investigation.’
Following a tip-off in February this year, the garages became a focus of the cold case investigation.
Speaking previously, Mrs Jones added: ‘As a mum, you protect your children and I didn’t protect her enough’
‘As hard as it is to come here I think also it makes you almost feel you are with her in happier times, when she was a schoolgirl.’
Mrs Jones and her husband Tony have raised two sons, which she said is what helped pull her through the tragedy.
Mrs Jones said: ‘She was a beautiful fun loving girl, she had everything to live for. I miss her every minute of every day.’
Residents near the council-owned garages being searched by police say there has been substantial building work there ‘in the last fortnight’.
An elderly man living near the site, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Workmen pulled nine of them [the garages] down the other week. I think they have probably found something doing that.
‘But the people who pulled them down cleared it up. There’s often building work being done there.’
Kaylee Tidswell, 28, lives in nearby Orsett and was visiting a family member’s home near the garages yesterday.
The garages are four miles from Danielle’s home and less than a kilometre from where killer Stuart Campbell used to live
Police plan to excavate the site, where it is feared Danielle may be buried beneath concrete
Police were seen unloading equipment at the search site in Stifford Clays near Thurrock
Cambell worked in paving at the time and it is feared he may have buried his niece at the site
Neighbour Ms Tidswell says she remembers numerous searches for Danielle in her area at the time of her disappearance and is ‘angry for the family’ that this site was not thoroughly searched at the time.
She said: ‘I feel angry more than anything for the parents, because they want that closure.
‘They searched so many other places like schools, garages and ditches. think her grandparents lived close to here – why wouldn’t they look here?’
At an inquest into Danielle’s death in 2005, senior detectives said police would ‘not give up’ trying to find body.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Reynolds said police believed Campbell had killed and disposed of Danielle’s body alone.
Campbell, a father-of-two and body-builder, denied any involvement in her disappearance.
But the prosecution produced evidence that Danielle, a pupil at St Clere’s School, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex was seen talking to a man in a blue Transit van shortly after leaving her house. Campbell owned an identical van.
The block of garages is down an alleyway between two residential streets in Thurrock
It is understood the block of garages is close to where her killer Campbell lived at the time
Police said the garages (seen from above) became the centre of the search after a tip-off
The jury heard that Campbell had developed an ‘irresistible sexual attraction’ to his niece.
He regularly picked her up from the school bus stop in his van; sent her ‘an inordinate amount of text messages’ and kept a diary chronicling his contact with her.
Speaking today, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron, head of the SCD, said: ‘Danielle’s disappearance in 2001 and the subsequent murder investigation was one of the biggest cases Essex Police had dealt with at the time.
‘Over the course of the investigation more than 750 police officers and staff worked tirelessly to find out for her family what happened to Danielle.
‘To date Stuart Campbell has shown no remorse for his crime and has not told police or Danielle’s family where her body is.
‘We received information earlier this year that there had been unusual activity in the garage block around the time of Danielle’s disappearance.
Mr and Mrs Jones, pictured after Campbell was convicted, said they were still heartbroken
Scores of volunteers from the area took part for a search for clues in the case in 2001
ACC Worron added: ‘We are following a credible line of enquiry in respect of this garage block and I am absolutely committed to conducting a thorough and professional search to see if we can bring the Jones family any closer to knowing what happened to Danielle 16 years ago.
‘We have remained in contact with Danielle’s parents Linda and Tony Jones since Campbell’s conviction for her murder and we have updated them on our plans for this search.
‘We will continue to keep them up to date on our progress.’
Schoolgirl missing for 16 years: The disappearance of Danielle Jones
Danielle Jones, 15, disappeared in June 2001 after leaving home to catch a bus to school.
In December 2002 her uncle, Stuart Campbell, of Grays, Essex, was convicted and jailed for life for her kidnap and murder following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
He has never admitted how he killed Danielle or where she is.
Danielle had acted as bridesmaid at Campbell’s wedding five years before her death
Campbell denied any involvement in her disappearance, claiming to have been in another part of Essex on the morning Danielle disappeared, but expert analysis of his mobile phone showed that could not be true.
Investigations also revealed that his phone and Danielle’s phone were together near his home for around 30 hours after she vanished.
In a bag in Campbell’s loft, police found female underwear including a pair of cling-top women’s stockings stained with blood. The stockings bore traces of Campbell’s and Danielle’s DNA.
In 2005 Campbell appealed the decision claiming he did not get a fair trial.
Police searching a Tilbury building site during the original search for Danielle in 2001
In the appeal, his lawyers argued that the trial judge, Mr Justice McKinnon, should have excluded highly prejudicial evidence to the effect that Campbell had a fixation for young girls and taking photographs of them, and downloaded material about teenage girls from the Internet.
They also urged Lord Justice Kennedy, Mr Justice Simon and Mr Justice Bean to rule that one of the jurors should have been discharged because he lived next door but one to a police officer involved in the case and another senior investigating officer lived in the same village.
The appeal however was dismissed.
Campbell was caught after his blue Transit van was linked to the investigation