The family of missing schoolgirl Alice Gross has issued an emotional plea for her to return home as police stage a reconstruction of her final movements four weeks after she disappeared.
Alice, 14, was captured on CCTV on August 28 walking alongside the Grand Union Canal in west London back towards her home in Hanwell and has not been seen since.
A statement from Alice’s family, released through Scotland Yard, said: “Alice has been missing for four weeks now. We are desperately concerned about her welfare and worry constantly about what may have happened to her.
“We are appealing to Alice. If you are out there, to come home where you belong. We love you and we miss you. We want to see your smile again, we want to hear you sing again, to see you cuddle Peggy, or sit at the piano. We want to be a family again.
“The whole family, all your friends, the community and the police are united in trying to bring you home.
“We are also appealing to anyone out there who knows anything about Alice’s disappearance or where she is to come forward now.
“We cannot believe that Alice is not at home with us and every morning brings new agony. We dearly love our daughter and Nina dearly loves her sister.
“Please, please help us.”
Murder detectives investigating the disappearance have received more the 1,000 calls from the public in response to appeals but have not yet been able to establish what happened after 4.26pm that day.
Prime suspect Arnis Zalkalns was seen on CCTV cycling past the same spot just 15 minutes later, although the convicted killer went missing on September 3 and officers have been despatched to his native Latvia in a bid to trace him.
Scotland Yard will stage a reconstruction today of Alice’s last known movements, which began with her leaving her home at 1pm before walking along Brentford Lock, in the hope of encouraging more witnesses to come forward.
Detective Superintendent Carl Mehta said: “The public’s support has been amazing, both from the local community and all the hundreds of people who have called in to give us information.
“We still need your help to find Alice and bring her home to her family.
“Today my appeal is simple. Alice was last seen on CCTV walking along the canal towpath, heading under Trumpers Way bridge towards Hanwell. Since 4.26pm on that Thursday 28 August she has not been seen. Did you see Alice that afternoon? Have you seen her since? We need your help to find her.
“Just as Alice reached the bridge it started to rain heavily. Think back and try to remember if you were out and about in that area that afternoon. It was during the summer holidays and the canal is a really popular place locally.
“We know that Alice loved the rain, so she probably would have kept walking in it rather than seek shelter. There are many paths and turn offs from that canal towpath. We don’t know the route that Alice took, so please think back to that Thursday four weeks ago and call us if you can help.”
The force also released new images of Alice, along with a map of her last sightings.
Yesterday, Scotland Yard commander Graham McNulty admitted his officers would have no power to arrest Zalkalns,who served seven years in prison for stabbing his wife Rudite Zalkalns to death, if he is found in his native Latvia or elsewhere.
He said the force would need to be “charge ready” to apply for a European Arrest Warrant, and has not done so because this would stop officers being able to interview the suspect.
Zalkalns, 41, who works at a building site in Isleworth, west London, is thought to have come to the UK in 2007, but authorities here apparently had no record of his murder conviction.
The general labourer is white, 5ft 10ins and stocky, with dark brown hair that he normally wears tied in a pony tail.
A reward of up to £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.
Police have said that Zalkalns “potentially poses a risk to the public” and have asked anyone who sees him not to approach him and to dial 999.