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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Amanda family's anguish goes on
Amanda Dowler sitting on her bed
A body in the Thames was not that of Amanda Dowler
The parents of missing teenager Amanda Dowler continue to wait for news after being told a body found in the Thames was not their daughter.

Police said Sally and Robert Dowler had been through an "emotional rollercoaster" since the body was discovered just two miles from their Walton-on Thames home on Tuesday.

A statement on behalf of the Dowlers and their elder daughter Gemma said: "This has been an extremely upsetting five weeks and in particular, a difficult 24 hours.

Police pull the body of Maisie Thomas from the Thames
The body of Maisie Thomas was spotted on Tuesday
"Yesterday afternoon Surrey police liaison officers notified us that there had been a female body found near Sunbury Lock.

"We prepared ourselves for the worst and waited for more information. In the early hours of this morning we were updated and told that the body may not be Milly and this was confirmed later."

Surrey Police confirmed later that the body was that of 73-year-old Maisie Thomas.

She went missing from Shepperton after going out for an early morning walk near the Thames on 14 March 2001.

Detectives say there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, and her next of kin have been informed.

Still hope for Milly

Police said they remained committed to finding 13-year-old Amanda - also known as Milly - who vanished last month on her way home from school.

Superintendent Alan Sharp dismissed media criticism of the investigation.

Mr Sharp stressed "the scale and commitment of this inquiry, the dedication of the officers involved in it, and the thoroughness of our work."

Police search wasteland for Milly Dowler clues
The search for the 13-year-old goes on
He said: "We are still treating Amanda as a missing person and will continue to do so until we have evidence to suggest otherwise.

"We are not treating this as a murder investigation, but in resourcing terms we have more officers working on the Milly case than most forces would deploy on a murder investigation.

"Throughout this investigation we have been painstakingly thorough."

Meanwhile, a team of search specialists conducted a finger tip search of a large landfill site in Walton-on-Thames.

False alarms

It is the second time the Dowlers have endured a body being found by police searching for her.

Three days after Amanda's disappearance, police found the body of a man on the railway line at nearby Hersham railway station.

Fears were raised on another occasion when divers were called to a stretch of water after two youngsters reported seeing a body from a train. It was later established it was a jacket.

Amanda was last seen on 21 March walking home from the railway station at nearby Walton-on-Thames.

After sharing a plate of chips with a friend, she phoned her father, Robert, to say she was heading home but never arrived.

There are fears she was abducted or had gone off with somebody she knew.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"Police are still hopeful that she may be found safe and well"
See also:

22 Apr 02 | England
Amanda's diary: In pictures
22 Apr 02 | England
Police reveal Amanda's diary
20 Apr 02 | England
Stadium appeal for missing Amanda
24 Apr 02 | England
Timeline: Amanda Dowler
24 Apr 02 | England
Who goes missing and why
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