A body has been found on land near Swanage, Dorset, UK in the hunt for missing Gaia Pope, which Dorset Police say they are "confident" is the teenager.

The announcement comes as a huge search by the Swanage commnuity for her takes place.

Gaia Pope went missing on Tuesday, November 7 from her home town of Swanage.

Three people from the same family were arrested on suspicion of murdering the student but were all later released, according to the Daily Mail.


Paul Elsey, 49 - who detectives had been trying to track down since Tuesday before he was arrested and later released - has today gone into hiding

Paul's father, Greg Elsey, 69, also said that his son was in Weymouth when Gaia vanished in Swanage, Dorset.

He said: "I'm absolutely bewildered that he was arrested, I've got no idea why he was taken.

"I mean, for God's sake, he was working all day in Weymouth when Gaia went missing, he had nothing to do with it.

"He lives with his mother Rosemary and takes care of her, he goes back there each night, that's the only link he's got with it.

"Police took him in and he said 'look, what on Earth am I doing here? I've got nothing to do with this.

"He's staying with a friend at the moment just chilling out. I saw him last night and he's alright.

'I've got no way of getting hold of him, they've taken his phone, they've taken everyone's phones.


"It's ruined Rosemary and Nathan's life, she was just being nice on the day, all police had to do was say to her they want to ask her a few questions and that would be fine but they arrested her."

Paul's family have accused the police of a "witch hunt" after three family members were arrested in a matter of days and then all released.

Greg added: "We're getting really sick of all this attention now and we'd like you to leave us alone, it's not fair. It's getting too much now.

"Paul is fine but all this attention isn't fair, please just give him some space.

"What I will say is the way the police have handled this is terrible, it's shocking."

He also refused to confirm if Nathan and his grandmother Rosemary - who were both initially arrested - were still in the house but said the keys to their home in Swanage. Dorset, have been handed back.

It was believed Gaia had been staying with the pair in Manor Gardens, Swanage when she disappeared.

It comes as a massive community search gets underway today in a desperate bid to find the missing teenager.

Gaia's emotional father, Richard Sutherland, publicly thanks and paid tribute to more than 1000 volunteers who turned out to join in the huge line-search of the Dorset countryside today.

Hundreds of people set off from three separate locations around Swanage, fanning out in every direction around the Victorian seaside resort.

In a direct appeal top her daughter, Gaia's mother, Natasha Pope, said: "We know you are having difficulty getting home and making contact.

"The whole world is looking for you. It's just a matter of time before we find you sweetheart.

"We love you, you be strong and do what you can sweetie.

"Take heart, we are coming for you."

A massive search orchestrated by friends and family is underway for the epileptic teen. Photo / Getty Images
A massive search orchestrated by friends and family is underway for the epileptic teen. Photo / Getty Images

The main search began at just after midday at Durlston Country Park on the Swanage coastline.

Before the search, Gaia's father thanked the community for rallying around the family.

Mr Sutherland said: "To everyone who's given up their time, I just want to say a massive thank you.

"It's very heartwarming and the support of everyone gives us so much hope."

Among those to help was Ronnie Taylor, 57, a local taxi driver from Swanage.

Having worked until 3am last night, he today spent his morning off offering volunteers lifts to the search free of charge.

He said Gaia's disappearance had touched the whole community and said he just wanted to help.

Mr Taylor said: "If I get people up there quicker they can get looking quicker it's as simple as that.

"I worked until about three o'clock last night and was up most of the night thinking about it so this morning I decided to come down and see if I could help.

"I rang my boss and he agreed so the firm are paying for the diesel and we all want to see Gaia return home safely."

Also present at the search was Richard Drax, the Conservative MP for South Dorset.

Earlier Gaia's cousin, Marienna Pope-Wiedemann said: "A police officer told me he has never been such a big operation for a missing person in this part of the south west ever.

"Gaia and her sisters and me grew up in this area and at times like this you realise how lucky you are to have such a community.

"So many people have told me if it were my little girl I would like to think the whole community would be looking for her and that's what's been happening."

Her family confirmed that clothing found only a short distance from rugged clifftops was probably hers and the detailed police and coastguard search of that area was continuing.

As the hunt for the 19-year-old enters its eleventh day, her mother Natasha Pope last said she was still "holding on to hope" that her daughter will be found alive and well.

Detectives had been trying to track Paul Elsey down since he went missing on Tuesday afternoon, a week after Gaia disappeared.

Gaia Pope at a petrol station less than an hour before she was last seen. Photo / Dorset Police
Gaia Pope at a petrol station less than an hour before she was last seen. Photo / Dorset Police

They seized his VW Golf and obtained a warrant to search his father's bungalow in Romsey, Hampshire, on Tuesday.

Mr Elsey, 49, was the third person to be arrested and released by Dorset Police over Gaia's disappearance.

His mother, 71-year-old Rosemary Dince, as well as nephew Nathan Elsey, 19, a schoolfriend of Gaia's were all held by police but released under investigation.

Mrs Dinch, who shares a first-floor flat with her son Paul, was the last person to see the missing teenager alive.

Mr Elsey's father Greg, 69, said the family have been handed back the keys to their flats in Swanage, which have been examined by forensic officers over the last four days.

He added: "My family has totally been the victim of a witch hunt. They should start looking elsewhere.

"I think of the public money which has been wasted, which could have been spent searching for Gaia and finding those clothes a long time ago.

"I will tell Paul it is nice to have him home. I don't think there is any problem now with them going home. We will soldier on.

"It is terrible for Gaia's family. I feel dreadfully sorry for them, I really do. I know if I was in their position I would be devastated.

"At least we knew [our family members] were coming home."

A female relative of Emilie Brylak, a close friend of Nathan's said: 'I have heard about the arrests, I just don't believe it.

"He is a very quiet young man. I have known Nathan for quite a while and he is good friends with my granddaughter.

"They go to the same college. He comes here and I take her to his house.

"He is a very gentle young man who doesn't go out. I just don't believe it."

Meanwhile, Gaia's family have criticised police, saying they were being kept in the dark by Dorset Police.

They said they were not told of arrests on suspicion of murder of three members of one family and had only heard of them through the media.

A family friend told The Times: 'We don't understand what the police are doing. They say someone has been arrested on suspicion of murder then in the next sentence that they are hopeful Gaia will be found alive and well.

"We also know from what people have told us that they have been knocking on doors asking people if they have seen a couple, a man with heavy tattoos and a woman with lots of jewellery, acting ."

Today, hundreds of volunteers from the Find Gaia Facebook page assembled at midday to conduct line searches of the rugged landscape around the Isle of Purbeck peninsula, an area popular with weekend daytrippers.

Gaia's mother Natasha, 53, said: 'I believe in this community and I believe miracles can happen.

"I am holding on to hope, along with Gaia's sisters and the whole family who are my strength.

"Please hold on with us. My eternal thanks to everyone who is out there searching for my little girl.

"Please come out over the weekend and do what you can. Every one of you makes a difference."

The family remain hopeful Gaia is alive.

Yesterday her father Richard Sutherland, 57, wept as he told Good Morning Britain that her epilepsy could have played a "big part" in her disappearance.

He said: "One thing we've really tried to do is not to go off down every speculation because that can lead you to 100 different ideas with a 100 different variations on everything.

"But, it's entirely possible that her epilepsy has played a big part in this and that's meant it's been more difficult to find her."

Gaia's cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann, 26, also said that Gaia "rarely gets through a day without a seizure", adding: "There's been times when she's not recognised us for a short time afterwards, not really understood where she is.

"That's a big part of what's made this case so complicated."

On Thursday, police discovered items of women's clothing similar to those worn by Gaia strewn in a field near a clifftop.

Last night police said Gaia's family confirmed they matched clothes worn by Gaia. They were discovered several kilometres south of her family home in Langton Matravers.

There were fears the clothes may have been dumped there at some point over the last few days.

The area was searched multiple times by police, coastguards and volunteers in the days after Gaia disappeared but on each occasion nothing was found.

Police and coastguards first searched the clifftop between Anvil Point and Dancing Ledge near Swanage, Dorset, the day after Gaia went missing.

And according to a spreadsheet of search locations on the Find Gaia Facebook page, the area of Priest's Way - next to the field where the clothing was found - was scoured by volunteers on November 9.

Earlier this week, Gaia's aunt Talia Pope, 59, told MailOnline there was still "no evidence" to prove she is dead and police have not found a body.

She said: "We are just searching until we find her. The search is continuing for my niece. It's ongoing at the moment. It's inconclusive.

"But we are just searching until we find her. We've got a long way to go yet".

Two days before her disappearance Gaia posted a message on Instagram that said she was worried about being "shut up and put in a cell" with the hashtag #sexualassault and one follower urged her to "run somewhere safe".

On November 11 more members of the public went back to look at a large area near to the Durlston Coast Path, when again nothing was found.

A family friend described the discovery of the clothes, which included a white trainer, as "very odd" and said it raised questions of when they were left there.

It is around an hour's walk from where Gaia, who suffers from epilepsy, was last seen in Swanage, Dorset, and two miles south of her family home in the village of Langton Matravers.

Gaia was wearing grey and white woven leggings, white trainers and a red checked shirt with white buttons when she vanished.

Gaia's cousin Marienna told the BBC: "It's been a profoundly shocking 24 hours. The discovery of these clothes was incredibly distressing for the whole family.

"We don't know what they mean as of yet. We are just desperate for answers."

Detective Superintendent Paul Kessell said: "The clothing located south of Priests Way appear to be Gaia's and her family have confirmed they match what she was believed to have been wearing the day she went missing.

He added: I would like to renew our appeal to anyone who may have seen Gaia in the area of Manor Gardens and south of Priests Way since 3.30pm on Tuesday 7 November.

"Finally, and most importantly, our thoughts remain with Gaia's family at this extremely distressing and difficult time. Specially-trained officers continue to support and update them and their wellbeing is central to our actions."