London: British police announced Saturday that they`d made two more arrests in the case of a 12-year-old girl whose body was found at her grandmother`s home a week after she went missing.
Scotland Yard said in a statement that a 46-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of murder and that a 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of "assisting an offender" in the case of Tia Sharp, whose disappearance from south London drew interest from across the UK.
Neither suspect was identified by name, in line with British practice. Police did not disclose what relationship, if any, the suspects had with the victim. Stuart Hazel, the 37-year-old partner of Tia`s grandmother Christine Sharp, has already been arrested following a city-wide manhunt.
Tia disappeared on Friday of last week and her family`s anguished appeals for information helped the story rise to the top of the national news bulletins. Britain`s tabloid press have devoted increasing amounts of space to the case, with The Sun newspaper offering 25,000 pounds (nearly USD 40,000) for the tip leading to Tia`s safe return.
The discovery of her body at Christine Sharp`s house her last known whereabouts led to anger and disbelief in Britain`s press, particularly since police had already searched the premises several times. The story even managed to displace much of the feel-good Olympic coverage from the front pages of the nation`s tabloids.
"WHY DID IT TAKE COPS 8 DAYS?" the Daily Mirror asked its readers, with the figure 8 outlined in red. The Daily Mail was even more critical. Under a bold-faced headline reading, "SHAMBLES," it wrote: "Despite a week-long hunt by 100 police with dogs, Tia is found dead in her granny`s house, which officers had searched THREE times."
Former Scotland Yard Commander John O`Connor told The Sun that police could have done better. "That child should have been found much quicker," he was quoted as saying.
Police have not specified where exactly in the house Tia`s body was found. But Scotland Yard Commander Neil Basu said Friday that police had been juggling several different leads, with detectives sifting through 60 sightings of the missing girl, 300 calls, and 800 hours of surveillance footage.