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Tia Sharp: Step-grandfather charged with her murder
6:43am Sunday 12th August 2012 in News
Detectives investigating the disappearance of schoolgirl Tia Sharp have charged her grandmother's partner with murder.
Stuart Hazell, 37, will appear before magistrates on Monday accused of killing the 12-year-old, who went missing in New Addington, south London, more than a week ago.
The youngster's grandmother Christine Sharp has been released on bail following her arrest on suspicion of murder, Scotland Yard said.
- Stuart Hazell has been charged with murdering Tia Sharp
Officers have also freed Sharp's next-door neighbour on bail pending further inquiries. Paul Meehan, 39, was detained by detectives on suspicion of assisting an offender
Police arrested the three suspects on Friday after investigators discovered a body inside the house Hazell shares with 46-year-old Sharp, in The Lindens, New Addington, near Croydon. The property was the last place where Tia was seen alive.
A massive manhunt was launched for Tia after she was reported missing by her family nine days ago. Around 100 police officers were involved in the search along with countless members of the local community, but it proved fruitless for the first week.
Despite visiting Sharp's terraced property four times, investigators only discovered the body on Friday and have since apologised to Tia's mother for not finding it sooner.
A manhunt for Hazell, who had previously been interviewed by police as a potential witness, was launched following the discovery.
He was arrested hours later in the south London borough of Merton after apparently being spotted by a schoolgirl who had seen him buying alcohol in an off-licence.
Police also detained a 46-year-old woman and 39-year-old man - identified by sources as Sharp and Meehan - on suspicion of murder and assisting an offender respectively.
A post-mortem examination on the body, which is yet to be formally identified but believed to be Tia's, is expected to recommence today after it was paused last night.
It is still not known how the youngster died. Police have not revealed where the remains were discovered, but officers were seen taking a ladder into the property on Friday, sparking rumours that it might have been in the loft.