Missing British schoolgirl Amanda Dowler is probably dead, police today said they had told her parents.
Detectives told the family of 13-year-old Amanda, who is also known as Milly, they are unlikely to see her alive following her disappearance on March 21.
The search for the Surrey teenager has thrown up little clues since she vanished while walking home in Walton-on-Thames.
A Surrey Police spokeswoman today confirmed parents Bob Dowler, a 50-year-old IT consultant and mother Sally, 42, a teacher, had been told by senior officers to accept the fact she may have been killed.
She said: ‘‘I cannot speculate on exactly what the wording of the conversation would have been. But they would have been told to expect the worst.
‘‘There has been no actual evidence to suggest that Amanda is either dead or alive, but as time has gone on the less likely it has become that she is alive and we have become more concerned.
‘‘We are still officially treating this as a missing person inquiry as there has been no evidence, and no body found. But we are taking it as a serious incident and resourcing it fully - as much as we would a critical situation/murder inquiry.
‘‘We are still fully committed to this investigation and have not ruled anything out.’’
She said dozens of detectives had met this week at the National Crime and Operations Faculty at Hampshire Police headquarters to discuss the Milly case.
They have also been in discussions with detectives from the Metropolitan Police who are investigating two other cases of missing women.
They have swapped notes on Elizabeth Chau, 19, and Lola Shenkoya, 27, both of whom disappeared in the Ealing area of London in 1999 and 2000.
Surrey Police have been also been liaising with Sussex officers who worked on the case of Sarah Payne.
The spokeswoman said: ‘‘It’s very common in cases like this to do that. But at this stage, there is no evidence to link this case with any other crime, including these two crimes in Ealing, but as you would expect we are looking at all possible scenarios.’’
The revelation comes just before Amanda’s 14th birthday on Tuesday.
Amanda’s parents and older sister Gemma, 16, have had to endure several false alarms in their wait for any news - good or otherwise.
A woman’s body found in April in the river near Walton-on-Thames turned out not to be that of Milly and two men arrested and questioned about the case at different times have both been released without charge.