Three men have been arrested for kidnap in connection with the disappearance of a schoolgirl who vanished after travelling 175 miles to a London party.
Carmelle Hepi, 13, was reported missing from home in Barnsley after midnight on Sunday.
Detectives believed she travelled to London by train on Saturday and attended a birthday party in Watling Street, Peckham, that evening.
It is believed she left with another group of people in a car at around 11 pm and later attended addresses in Croydon, Lewisham and Purfleet in Essex.
While police don’t believe she has come to serious harm, the investigation is led by detectives from the Met’s specialist crime team.
The force said that three males, all aged in their 20s, have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and remain in custody.
Police believe she was photographed in a car in the Peckham area on Sunday.
They have also released CCTV footage showing her entering the Primark in High Street, Croydon, at around 4.45 pm later that day before leaving around 5.05 pm.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of kidnap after a teenager went missing from a party 175 miles from her home. Carmelle Hepi, 13, from Barnsley, was reported missing by her family to South Yorkshire Police just after midnight on Sunday, June 25.
Officers there contacted counterparts from the Metropolitan Police after establishing that she had gone to Barnsley station and Sheffield before travelling to London Kings Cross St Pancras and would have arrived in London at about 6.09 pm on Saturday.
The investigation was transferred to the Met on Sunday, and investigating officers said enquires so far lead them to believe that she went to Watling Street, in the SE15 area, on Sunday night. There, she went to a birthday party with other teenagers at around 10 pm before leaving with another group of people in a car at around 11 pm.
The Missing Schoolgirl Carmelle Hepi
Police said she is also believed to have been to addresses in Croydon, Lewisham and Purfleet in Essex. Officers in London said they were in regular contact with Carmelle’s family in Barnsley and had spoken to the people at the party.
They said that while “there is no information at this time to suggest that Carmelle has come to serious harm, due to her age, vulnerabilities, and concerns around who she may be associating with, the investigation to locate her is being led by detectives from Specialist Crime”.
Three men, all aged in their 20s, have been arrested on suspicion of kidnap. They remained in custody on Wednesday afternoon. Officers said they believed Carmelle could now be in the company of older men. It is not yet known where they might be.
An image of Carmelle taken in a car believed to have been taken in the Peckham area on Sunday, was shared on social media by police on Tuesday. The footage was also released from the same day showing her entering the Primark shop in High Street, Croydon, at around 4.45 pm before leaving at around 5.05 pm, as the store closed. It shows her in the pink and white jacket she could still wear now.
The Baffling Case of Carmelle Hepi’s Disappearance
Addressing Carmelle directly, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Chris Wood said: “Carmelle, I want you to know that you are not in any trouble whatsoever. Our only focus is making sure that you are safe and well. Please call 999 and speak to us, or go to a police station, and we will get you back home safely.
“Your family are desperately worried about you, and while we’re supporting them as best we can, they need to know that you’re OK and to come home. They cannot rest until you’re back with them.”
Det Ch Insp Wood added: “My team are working round the clock, supported by our colleagues at South Yorkshire Police and local officers. As well as the arrests made, we have spoken to multiple people, searched several addresses, and officers are conducting extensive CCTV enquiries, along with various other leads we are pursuing.
“Members of the public can help us locate Carmelle. You must contact us if you have seen or know Carmelle and have information about where she is or has been. It doesn’t matter if you’re a friend who has heard or seen something in passing – you won’t be in trouble. What matters is that you contact us as you could have important information to help us find a missing teenage girl.”