Detectives looking for missing Bristol teenager Maddie Thomas are now treating the case as child abduction, it was confirmed yesterday. Fifteen-year-old Maddie vanished from the Southmead area on Tuesday, April 26 and is believed to be with a man.
Police say they are really concerned for Maddie, who went missing last month and was then found, before going missing again. Police renewed their appeal to find her on May 4 and have since said they are no longer investigating the case as a missing person but as a child abduction.
Below is a timeline of events from when Maddie first disappeared, to detectives’ urgent message yesterday. Anyone who sees Maddie is urged to call 999 immediately, giving the call handler reference number 5222098703.
Friday, April 15: Maddie goes missing
Maddie is first reported missing on Friday, April 15. Police launch an appeal to find her, saying she is from Southmead, but has links to Wiltshire, Gloucester, Devon, Cornwall, Gwent and the West Midlands.
Police say at the time of her disappearance Maddie was believed to be wearing black leggings with a white stripe down the sides, a grey jacket and black trainers.
Saturday, April 23: Maddie is located by police
More than a week after she went missing, Maddie is located by police. Police say they have a confirmed sighting of her in Horfield on Tuesday, April 19 at 2.50pm.
Avon and Somerset Police say in a tweet: “Missing 15-year-old Madison has now been located by officers in Bristol. Thank you for sharing all our appeals. Your help is always appreciated.”
Friday, April 27: Maddie goes missing again
Less than a week after she was tracked down by police, police launch an appeal to find Maddie again. Police say they are concerned for her safety.
Maddie is described by police as white, about 5ft and of average build with shoulder-length brown hair. Police say they are worried about the company she may be keeping.
Wednesday, May 4: Police renew appeal
A week after Maddie goes missing for the second time, police renew their appeal to find her. Police say they are worried she is vulnerable to being exploited, and are calling on everyone in Bristol to look out for her.
Detective Inspector Stephen Baines said: “While Maddie has previously gone missing, her carers have not heard from her for a week and are growing increasingly worried about her. We’re particularly concerned about the company she may be keeping and that others may look to exploit her. Maddie – people are worried about you. If you see this please phone us on 101.”
Tuesday, May 10: CCTV of last known sighting of Maddie is released
Police release CCTV of the last known sighting of Maddie, as she has now been missing for a fortnight. Maddie was last seen on April 26 on Stanton Road, Southmead. The video is recorded at 2.43pm and captures only her feet.
Police in Southmead have been going door-to-door to ask residents if they know Maddie or have seen her, as well as giving out leaflets with Maddie’s picture on them. She has been known to use social media to meet people who might give her money and a place to stay, according to Avon and Somerset Police.
Det Insp Stuart Toms said: “Maddie is a vulnerable teenage girl who is at risk of being exploited and we urgently need the public’s help to locate her and make sure she’s OK. Maddie – if you see this please let someone know you’re safe and well. Your family, foster parents and friends are worried about you.”
He added: “Maddie is very active on social media but she changes her accounts frequently. As well as appealing to anyone who might see Maddie to contact us, we’re also keen to hear from anyone who sees her online to get in touch.”
Detective Inspector Laura Miller told ITV news that Maddie has in the past been found with men in hotels. She says although Maddie has gone missing before, she has never disappeared for this long.
She said: “We are really concerned for her safety because she is probably likely to be with someone taking advantage of her. She is a child, and she’s vulnerable. Our working theory is that she is likely to be with somebody, whether that is of her own free will, or not, we don’t know. However, we haven’t been able to find her and that’s the really concerning thing.”
Wednesday, May 11: Detectives escalate case to ‘child abduction’
Detective Inspector Laura Miller confirms police are no longer treating Maddie’s disappearance as a missing person case but as a child abduction. She says: “When Maddie has previously gone missing she has been found in the company of adult men and it is mainly due to this history that we believe she is likely to currently be with someone.
“Maddie is a child in foster care, no one has permission to keep her from her carers. She is vulnerable and at risk of being taken advantage of. We’re really concerned about her safety and have a dedicated team working extremely hard to locate her.”
DI Miller continues: ““No one has seen or heard from Maddie for 15 days – since she saw a relative on 26 April when she said she was going to the shop. The circumstances of her disappearance are deeply worrying for us; her family and her carers.
“We have a number of lines of enquiry and while we’ve had great deal of help from the public to date for which we’re incredibly grateful, we still need more. Officers have carried out CCTV enquiries in the Southmead area where Maddie was last seen and posters have also been handed out to local residents by officers going house to house.
“But Maddie could be anywhere in the country and so we really need our appeal to be shared and reported on as widely as possible.
“We’re asking anyone who sees Maddie to call 999 immediately and anyone who speaks to her or sees her online to call 101. Maddie – if you see this please contact us if you can to let us know you’re safe. Everyone is worried about you.”
Anyone with information should call police and give the call-handler reference number 5222098703. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111