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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 21:35 GMT
Timeline: Missing Shannon Matthews
Nine-year-old Shannon Matthews disappeared after a swimming trip with her school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on 19 February.

Twenty-four days later, she has been found alive under a bed in nearby Batley Carr. This is how events unfolded:

19 February, 2008 - The last confirmed sighting of Shannon Matthews is at 1510 GMT outside West Moor Junior School, Dewsbury.

Her mother, Karen Matthews, reports her missing after she fails to return home as expected.

20 February, 2008 - Police announce that they have launched a massive search involving more than 200 officers as concern grows for the missing girl.

Her mother makes a plea for her return and posters featuring her picture are put up around the neighbourhood.

Police suggest she may have run away from home but her family say this would be out of character.

21 February, 2008 - Some 200 volunteers join police in their hunt for Shannon.

Police say they are treating a sighting of Shannon on the day after her disappearance as "significant".

22 February, 2008 - Police release CCTV footage of Shannon leaving Dewsbury Sports Centre on 19 February.

Detectives reveal that Shannon had expressed a desire to leave home and had scribbled a note on her bedroom wall saying she wished to see more of her natural father.

They say they are "gravely concerned" for her safety.

26 February, 2008 - As a search involving behavioural experts, a dedicated team of scientists, mountain rescue teams and specially trained dogs fails to find any trace of Shannon, police warn she may have "fallen into the wrong hands".

1 March, 2008 - Karen Matthews issues an emotional appeal for Shannon's return on the eve of Mother's Day.

3 March, 2008 - Karen Matthews issues appeals for anyone holding Shannon to let her go.

She says she thinks someone she knows may have taken her daughter and that the family no longer feels safe.

4 March, 2008 - Police say they have gathered a full DNA profile of Shannon to be used to search places where she may have been since she was last seen.

Shannon's parents and head teacher issue a fresh appeal to the community to help find the missing girl.

The operation, involving 200 police officers and 60 detectives, is said to be using 10% of West Yorkshire Police's operational strength.

11 March, 2008 - Police say almost half the UK's specialist search dogs are involved in the hunt for Shannon - the West Yorkshire force's largest operation since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

The Sun newspaper offers 20,000 for information about the nine-year-old's whereabouts.

12 March, 2008 - Karen Matthews says she fears her daughter has been abducted by someone known to the family in order to "get at her" - but that she has not given up hopes of finding her alive.

14 March, 2008 - Shannon is found alive and hidden in the base of a divan bed at a house in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.

15 March, 2008 - Shannon remains in the care of social services, but meets briefly with her mother and stepfather. She is interviewed by investigators. A 39-year-old man - a relative of her stepfather - remains in police custody.



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