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Missing London teen: Police search canal as suspect's violent past emerges

Here’s how the disturbing case has unfolded so far…

Image: PA

TEENAGER ALICE GROSS has now been missing for three weeks, and the investigation into her disappearance has intensified after recent disturbing revelations about the main suspect.

Arnis Zalkalns, 41, who had been working in the English capital as a builder, was last seen on 3 September, and was captured on CCTV, cycling close to the 14-year-old girl in south west London on 28 August, the day she disappeared.

As the case has progressed in recent days, the Metropolitan police has come under fire for perceived failings in their investigations.

Today, Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was “very concerned” that UK police had delayed in contacting their Latvian counterparts regarding their chief suspects past history of violence.

Here’s how the case has developed so far:

  • At 1 pm on Thursday, 28 August, 14-year-old Alice Gross leaves her home in Hanwell, west London, saying she would return that evening. 
  • At 3.45 pm, she is seen on CCTV, crossing the Grand Union Canal at Brentford Lock in south west London. Her rucksack was later found not far from here.

Source: metpoliceservice/YouTube

  • 15 minutes later, the same CCTV captures Arnis Zalkalns cycling across the same bridge.

Source: neighbournet/YouTube

  • London police open a formal missing persons inquiry the next day, 29 August.

  • Zalkalns, meanwhile, is last seen at his home in Ealing on 3 September. Since then he hasn’t used his mobile phone or accessed his bank account. 
  • On 7 September, police arrest two men on suspicion of murder. But they are released without charge the next day:

  • On 16 September, police put out an appeal for help in finding Zalkalns, purportedly because his route to work overlapped with the one walked by Gross on 28 August. 

Detective Superintendent Carl Mehta stresses: “At this stage, we simply want to speak to him…”

  • Within 48 hours of that appeal, however, the tone of the investigation changes dramatically. 

On 18 September, the British media reports that Zalkalns was convicted of stabbing his wife Rudite to death in 1997, in his native Latvia.

suspectmurder

He served five and a half years in prison, before being released in December 2003. He emigrated to Britain in 2007, according to the Daily Telegraph.

  • The same day, lead investigator Mehta reveals that the 41-year-old had also been arrested over an “indecent assault on a juvenile girl” in London in 2009.

The allegations were dropped, however, and no charges were ever brought.

The tone of police appeals changes significantly, and on 18 September Zalkalns is officially designated as a suspect.

  • On Saturday, 20 September, the Metropolitan police announce that their effort to find Alice Gross is the biggest operation since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.

journalgross Source: TheJournal.ie

  • Yesterday, London police said it was possible Zalkalns had fled back to Latvia, although they were sure he hadn’t arrived there by plane. 
  • Today, investigators have been searching the Hanwell canal near where Gross disappeared, Sky News reports.

Read: Police search for missing London teenager is ‘biggest investigation since 7/7′>

Police arrest two men on suspicion of murder over missing 14-year-old girl>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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