Police searching for missing mother-of-two Katie Kenyon believe she is dead – and have arrested a man on suspicion of murder.
The 33-year-old woman, from Padiham in Burnley, was reported missing after being last seen at around 9.30am on Friday.
More than 60 specialist search officers from four police forces are scouring parts of Gisburn Forest in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley for Ms Kenyon.
The forest is said to be the largest wooded area in the county – measuring over 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres, or more than 4.6 square miles) – and is popular with walkers and cyclists.
Officers from the Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North Wales police forces are combing the area, assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team.
A 50-year-old man from Burnley, who is being questioned on suspicion of kidnap, has been further arrested on suspicion of murder.
Detective are set to ask magistrates for further time to question him. He is said to be known to Ms Kenyon.
A statement from Lancashire Police said: “Whilst Katie has not yet been found we are now working on the basis that she is sadly no longer alive.”
It added that a man initially arrested on suspicion of her kidnap, has been further arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Detective Superintendent Gary Brooks, Lancashire Police’s head of major crime, added that officers are offering support to Ms Kenyon’s family following the latest development.
He said: “While I hold some slim hope that Katie may still be found alive I’m sad to say that Katie has now been missing for over four days.
“Despite extensive police enquiries and media appeals we have not found Katie nor have there been any sightings of Katie.”
‘We are continuing to search a number of different locations’
He added: “We are continuing to search a number of different locations in connection with this investigation, including at Gisburn Forest and I am grateful to colleagues from Merseyside and North Wales, and other emergency service partners who are offering assistance in the these complex and wide-scale searches.”
At about 9.30am on Friday, a woman matching Ms Kenyon’s description left an address on Todmorden Road in Burnley with a man and travelled in a silver Ford Transit, registration MT57 FLC, to the Bolton-by-Bowland area of north Lancashire.
She has not been seen since.
Police previously issued a photograph of the van – found in Burnley – and are continuing to appeal for anyone who saw the vehicle, or has dashcam footage, to come forward.
Ms Kenyon is described as white, 5ft 9in tall, with shoulder-length strawberry blonde/ginger hair.
She was last seen wearing a blue shirt or jacket and white vest top, black leggings and flip flops.
Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting log 800 of April 24 or they can contact officers through the major incident public portal.
Alternatively, they can contact independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.