Concern grows for missing Alice, 14

Alice Gross went missing on August 28

Alice Gross went missing on August 28

First published in National News © by

Fears are growing for the safety of a 14-year-old girl who has been missing for a week.

Alice Gross, who suffers from anorexia, was last seen walking along a towpath in west London on August 28, and today her mother, Rosalind Hodgkiss, renewed appeals to help find her.

Speaking from the family home in Hanwell, west London, she said: "We'd like to say to Alice first of all that we miss her, that we love her and that she's not in any trouble, and we want to know that she's safe. We just want her to come home.

"We're also appealing to anybody who might have seen her or who may have made contact with her or who may know something about her whereabouts to contact police or Missing People, and to just get in touch because we're really concerned about her well-being."

Police today released CCTV of Alice walking back towards Hanwell along the Grand Union Canal towpath at around 3.45pm on the day she went missing.

Her mother added: "What we've discovered over the course of her disappearance is that she was probably walking on her own more frequently than we realised and perhaps in different areas than we realised.

"But I wasn't surprised that she was seen coming home - that would be much more in keeping with her character, with her behaviour, that she was on her way home."

The teenager suffered from an eating disorder but Ms Hodgkiss said there was nothing to suggest she was planning to run away.

"Alice has been unwell and we're now confirming that she had a diagnosis of anorexia," she said.

"That was a worry for her, it was troubling for her. But in terms of the particular day there wasn't anything that was out of the ordinary for how she had been over the past few weeks that alerted us to the idea that she may be planning to run away or disappear or anything like that. We were expecting her home.

"It seems that sometimes she was saying that she was going to meet particular people and she wasn't. We're speculating but we think that she may have been walking on those occasions as well."

The Brentside High School pupil had taken part in a song-writing workshop at the Camden Roundhouse earlier in August, but it does not appear that she was planning to meet any new friends from the course that day.

She had texted her father Jose Gross around 3pm that afternoon to ask when he would get home.

Addressing Alice directly, her mother added: "You may have been going through a tough time, but we remember a lot of the happier family times that we shared together and we're really looking forward to sharing more of those.

"We miss you and we love you, we miss your laughter and smile, and we miss your presence in the house, and we just want you to come home and know that you're safe."

The teacher continued: "If anybody out there has any information at all about where she might possibly be, then please come forward.

"We've been distraught. Emotionally its been obviously really draining and distressing. We're trying to keep hopeful that she's there somewhere with someone, and that someone will be looking after her and that some information will come out of this publicity that will lead to us finding her."

The family are concerned that anyone she has been in contact with may not understand how serious her health condition is.

Her sister Nina, 19, said: "We love her so much, we're worried and I can't wait to be with my sister again.

"If you do know where she is, or you have had contact with her, you may feel that you are helping her, but it's really important that she comes home."

Police have been scouring the tow path and surrounding area for the past few days, with divers searching the water this morning.

Alice's distinctive purple rucksack was found near the path, but investigators would not say where, what condition the bag was in or whether any of her belongings including her phone were missing.

Speaking on the path near the River Brent, Detective Inspector Julie Willats said: "It has been recovered on part of the route that we believe Alice to have taken, and we're keen for people to say whether they have seen that bag anywhere. They might have seen it abandoned, or have seen someone carrying it, or they might have seen Alice wearing it."

Scotland Yard's Homicide and Major Crime Command have now taken over the hunt for the teenager, but the force has stressed investigators remain confident of finding her alive.

Ms Willats said: "She is identifiable by being very thin, she weighed about 40kg and she is 5ft 1in or 5ft 2in. Obviously for someone who doesn't eat a lot we're concerned for her health and welfare. She might have collapsed somewhere, felt unwell. All lines of inquiry for us are open.

"This appeal is to Alice as well as witnesses. This is a 14-year-old girl who's got a few health issues, she's obviously a little bit vulnerable, she might be hiding somewhere. She might be frightened and scared to come back.

"If anything has happened to her I want to find that out as well and I want to find Alice."

Police are also speaking to canal boat owners to see if they have witnessed anything.

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