British police were at the center of a media storm Saturday after the body of a 12-year-old girl was found on Friday, a week after she went missing, at a house they had already searched several times.
Scotland Yard said in a statement Saturday that a 46-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of murder and a man, 39, was arrested on suspicion of "assisting an offender" in the case of Tia Sharp. The girl's body was discovered at her grandmother's house - her last known whereabouts - after she disappeared Friday of last week in south London.
Police later apologized for the delay in finding the body, blaming human error and noting that they had also apologized to the girl's mother for failing to find her body sooner. Police said they had previously searched the address where the body was found several times, and found nothing.
The discovery of the body led to anger and disbelief in Britain's press. The family's frantic search and appeals had even managed to displace much of the feel-good Olympic coverage from the front pages of the nation's tabloids, with at one point The Sun offering 25,000 pounds (nearly $40,000 ) for a tip leading to Tia's safe return.
The Daily Mirror newspaper asked its readers: "Why did it take cops 8 days?" with the figure 8 outlined in red. The Daily Mail was even more critical, writing under a bold-faced "Shambles" headline: "Despite a week-long hunt by 100 police with dogs, Tia is found dead in her granny's house, which officers had searched THREE times."
Neither suspect was identified by name, in keeping with U.K. law, and police did not disclose what relationship, if any, the suspects had with the victim. Stuart Hazell, the 37-year-old partner of Tia's grandmother, Christine Sharp, has already been arrested on suspicion of murder following a city-wide manhunt.
Police have not specified exactly where in the house Tia's body was found, but Scotland Yard Commander Neil Basu said Friday they had been juggling several different leads with detectives sifting through 60 sightings of the missing girl, 300 calls and 800 hours of surveillance footage.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now