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The BBC's Daniela Relph
"It's helped them narrow down the search area"
 real 28k

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The police search goes on"
 real 28k

Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Police examine Sarah 'shoe'
Appeal for Sarah Payne
Police are conducting a series of roadside searches

Police in West Sussex are continuing their forensic examination of a shoe they think belonged to murdered eight-year-old Sarah Payne.

They hope it could provide vital evidence in the search for her killer.

Sarah's clothes
Chief Inspector Alderson with clothes similar to ones Sarah was wearing
The black shoe was found near the village of Coolham in West Sussex, between three and four miles from Pulborough where Sarah's body was found in a field off the A29 on Monday.

Police are now conducting a series of searches of hedgerows and verges on the surrounding roads in an attempt to trace the other shoe and the schoolgirl's dark blue Fred Perry-style sports dress.

here for a map.

Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo, speaking on Thursday morning, said: "It is a very significant piece of evidence."

The shoe was found 36 hours ago following information from a woman who lives in Coolham. Mr Yeo said police were "very close to being certain" it was Sarah's and were carrying out forensic tests on it.

Police said the shoe looked as if it had been casually discarded with no effort made to conceal it.

Detective Superintendent Peter Kennet, who is soon to take over as the main investigating officer, said the shoe could contain vital evidence.

"Certainly, DNA could confirm that it is Sarah's shoe. There is the possibility of fibre transfer from someone that has been in contact with it. That is a big hope for us."

Screams heard

The news came hours after it was revealed two couples camping in West Sussex had told police they had heard a young girl screaming the night Sarah vanished.
Sarah Payne
Sarah disappeared on 1 July

Police have taken statements from the couples, who were camped at Fittleworth beauty spot, three miles from where Sarah's body was found.

Although the couples were concerned about the cries, they did not attach sufficient importance to them until they learned that Sarah's body had been found nearby.

Sussex Police say they are looking into the statement. Chief Inspector Mike Alderson said: "It may be significant, or it may not, we just don't know at this stage.

"It could just have been a little girl playing - it was a pleasant enough evening."

But he agreed it could help detectives pinpoint where Sarah was killed.

On Wednesday, Sarah's parents appealed to the public to help find her killer.

White Transit-style van
Police say a white Transit-style van is still key to the inquiry
"We will find whoever did this, and I feel no pity for you any more, no pity at all," said Sara Payne, 31.

"Whoever it is has got to be caught and stopped. We can do that by being here, talking to the police to keep all of us together, to keep our faces in the newspapers, to make people remember," she added.

A post-mortem examination failed to isolate the cause of death, but police said it was likely Sarah had been strangled or suffocated.

Police believe Sarah was killed between 1930 BST on Saturday, 1 July, and the morning of 2 July.

Sarah disappeared after playing in fields near her grandparents' home with her brothers Lee, 13, and Luke, 11, and her sister Charlotte, six.

Police desperately want more information on the white, Transit-type van seen in the Kingston area of West Sussex in which Sarah went missing.

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