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JAYDEN PARKINSON: Father pays tribute as body is found
THE body of what police believe is Jayden Parkinson was last night found at a Didcot grave.
Thames Valley Police confirmed officers had found a body in a recently disturbed burial plot in the cemetery of All Saints’ Church.
A formal identification had last night yet to take place.
Forensic officers had been searching for many hours in the cemetery for 17-year-old Jayden, who was last seen 16 days ago.
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Jayden’s 22-year-old boyfriend Ben Blakeley was charged with her murder earlier this week and a 17-year-old Didcot boy has been accused of helping Blakeley hide her body. Both are in custody awaiting court in March.
A police spokeswoman said: “Jayden’s family has been informed and is being supported by specially trained officers. Our thoughts are with them at this extremely difficult and distressing time.”
Officers and forensic scientists were working throughout the night after the discovery.
Murder detectives announced on Tuesday night they had received a tip-off leading them to the Great Western Cemetery after calling for Didcot residents to “examine their memories and, if needs be, their consciences” and get in touch.
A blue tent enveloped the grave yesterday and a fence was put up around it. Nearby gravestones were protected by bubble wrap.
Forensic detectives worked at the scene throughout the day, breaking only for a funeral to take place at the Lydalls Road church.
At 2pm the search stopped for the military funeral of retired RAF Squadron Leader Phil Pynegar.
Yesterday morning, Det Chief Supt Andrew Murray said “meticulous and methodical” forensic scientists were working at the scene.
In announcements made several hours before the body find, he said: “We are at an established grave but there is evidence of recent and unauthorised disturbance of the grave.”
Earlier Jayden’s mother, Erica Simms, wrote on Twitter about her daughter.
“My beautiful baby girl. Love you now and forever,” she said in one tweet, adding: “Miss that smile.”
And as news of the discovery broke Jayden’s father Paul Parkinson posted on Facebook: “Baby I hope God will look after you now....love you always dad.”
Earlier in the day he wrote: “Well here we go another day staying in, going out of my mind, wondering where my baby is. I am thinking about you every second of every day tiny xxx.”
Last night youngsters gathered at the Didcot Train youth project, which Jayden had attended, to say prayers for their friend.
Youth worker Paul Gander said: “The staff and volunteers at Train knew Jayden and are deeply saddened about the events in regard to her. We are committed to praying for her and her friends and family at this time, and will continue to find ways to care for those whom we know are affected by this.”
He said: “We wanted to do something, as we know young people are finding it difficult at the moment.”
Even before the body was found, local residents were trying to come to terms with the investigation.
Lydalls Road resident Maier Walters said police had told her the grave of her husband Bill – who died seven years ago aged 78 – would be affected by the search. His headstone was one of those wrapped in bubble wrap. She said: “I feel very sad that my husband’s grave has been involved.”
Natasha Dewsbury, a former school friend of Jayden’s, yesterday morning said: “It is upsetting. When we found out it [the investigation] was near a grave, people thought the worst. We are finding it hard.”
Lydalls Road resident Jane Crees added: “It is horrible. It is very sad and very shocking.”
Police revealed earlier this week that the teenager may have been pregnant.
A house in Great Western Drive near the cemetery remained cordoned off last night.