Police match Milly DNA to church

DETECTIVES hunting the killer of British schoolgirl Milly Dowler have matched DNA from the inquiry with a sample found at the scene of a burglary in the north east of England, Surrey Police said yesterday.

DNA taken from Milly’s clothing matches the sample found at a church in Sunderland where there was a break-in on October 31 last year.

The breakthrough came 10 months after Milly disappeared from her home in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

Her body was found in September in woodland in Hampshire.

The male DNA sample found on Milly’s clothing was taken from her bedroom after her disappearance.

It matches DNA found on a coffee cup at the church, Surrey police said.

Detectives are now trying to find out who the DNA belongs to and why it was present on an item of her clothing.

Police refused to divulge what the item of clothing was.

Detectives from Surrey visited St Paul’s Church in Ryhope in Sunderland this weekend and took DNA samples from 46 members of the congregation and others linked to the church. These have been sent away for testing.

The discovery raises the possibility Milly may have been abducted and killed by a man she had met before.

But Surrey police insisted they were keeping an open mind about any link between the man whose DNA was found at both locations. A spokesman stressed: “We want to interview this person to get some explanation.

“There is nothing to suggest that they are linked to the abduction and murder of Amanda Dowler, but it is a very odd coincidence that we need to find an explanation for.”

Meanwhile, a vicar who was DNA tested with more than 45 parishioners yesterday told of the shock-waves that went through a village when detectives established a link between murdered Dowler and his church.

The Reverend David Meakin, from St Paul’s Church, Ryhope, near Sunderland, told how he was asked by police to provide a list of all adult male worshippers and men with a link to his church.

Mr Meakin was one of 46 men who gave samples over the weekend at the church.

“I gave a list of male members of the congregation or anyone who had a link with the church and throughout Saturday and Sunday DNA samples were taken from us.

“Everyone was more than happy to help.

“It was an awful lot to take in, to be asked to come to church and to be told what had happened and how the link had been made. The reaction of everyone was surprise, shock and some people were literally shaking.

“But in spite of that, everyone was eager to help police as best we could.

“It’s just such a freaky link that should drag us into this and I would love it to get to the point where there was some sort of answer.”

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox