Gaia went missing on Tuesday, November 7 – but police they are ‘confident’ they have found her body
A post-mortem of the body believed to be missing teenager Gaia Pope has shown she had ‘no injuries to suggest anyone else was involved in her death’.
Yesterday afternoon Dorset Police said they were ‘confident’ they had found Gaia after a body was recovered from a coastal path in Swanage, near where items of her clothing were found on Thursday.
But they claim after an initial examination her ‘death’ is still being treated as ‘unexplained’.
Her cousin vowed she will ‘have justice’ after detectives searching for the missing teenager found a body in a field.
In a heart-wrenching Facebook post today, Gaia’s cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann wrote: ‘My beautiful baby girl, so sunny and kind but tough as f***.
‘We hold you in our hearts forever. Know you are with Nan Pops now but miss you beyond words. You will have justice. Fly on.’
Gaia went missing on Tuesday, November 7 and was last seen in a distressed state at the home of her childhood friend Nathan Elsey.
Speaking this evening, Detective Superintendent Paul Kessell, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: ‘The post-mortem examination has not identified any injuries to suggest any other person was involved in her death.
‘The cause of death is undetermined pending toxicology.
‘The coroner is involved in the oversight of these examinations but at this time this remains an investigation into an unexplained death.
‘The area where the body was located is likely to remain cordoned off for some time while forensic examinations and searches are concluded.
In a heart-wrenching Facebook post today, Gaia’s cousin Marienna Pope-Weidemann (pictured with Gaia), wrote: ‘We hold you in our hearts forever. You will have justice. Fly on’
He also begged those who were taking part in the search for the missing 19-year-old to remain at home, adding: ‘Please can I ask that the public no longer attend to assist with searches and that they remain a safe distance from the location.
‘I reiterate this area is steep and slippery in an exposed area close to sea cliffs. The area is covered in dense undergrowth and gorse and can present a hazard.
‘Only specially-trained search and forensic teams are entering the area, assisted by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service recovery teams.’
This evening people across Dorset and beyond lit candles, putting them on their windowsills and sharing pictures on social media.
Writing in the ‘Find Gaia’ Facebook group, Bryony Parsons wrote: ‘Quite a few of us in Swanage further afield are going to light a candle for Gaia at 19.00 hours this evening put it in our front window in memory of her, as she was 19 today is the 19th.
‘It would be lovely if as many people as possible did the same. R.I.P. Gaia.’
The post has been shared hundreds of times.
Marienna appeared alongside Gaia’s father on Good Morning Britain (left) earlier in the week, where she asked members of the public to help their search efforts
Gaia’s twin sister has spoken of her heartbreak at the death of the 19-year-old and vowed to ‘make her so proud’.
Maya Pope-Sutherland described her sister as ‘my everything’ and thanked everyone who had helped in searching for her sister.
Paying tribute to the teenager, Miss Pope-Sutherland wrote on Facebook: ‘Can’t find any words right now. Gaia is my everything and I am heartbroken.
‘I thank everyone who was involved in searching for my beautiful twin. Going to make her so proud.’
Gaia Pope went missing on November 7, and was last seen in a distressed state at the home of her childhood friend Nathan Elsey
Dorset Police confirmed they were confident they had found Gaia after a body was recovered from a coastal path in Swanage, near to where items of her clothing were found on Thursday. Pictured, police at the scene
Police at the cliff top in Swanage where Gaia Pope’s body was found on Saturday afternoon
Marienna said last night: ‘We are absolutely devastated and unable to put those feelings of loss into words.
‘Our little bird has flown, but she will always be with us.’
Greg Elsey, whose ex-wife Rosemary and son Paul were arrested on suspicion of murder, described the discovery of what police believe could be Gaia’s body as ‘absolutely tragic’.
But speaking at his home near Romsey in Hampshire today, Mr Elsey hit out at police after his actor grandson, ex-wife and son were all arrested then released on suspicion of murder.
The 69-year-old has accused the police of a ‘witch hunt’ after his ex-wife Rosemary Dinch, 71, actor grandson Nathan Elsey, 19 – Gaia’s school friend – and his son Paul, 49, were all taken into custody in a matter of days then released.
Speaking at his home in West Wellow, near Romsey in Hampshire Mr Elsey said: ‘Our heart goes out to Gaia’s family. I feel terrible for them.
‘It’s devastating news for them and absolutely tragic.’
A map shows the timeline of events and the properties that have been searched in the hunt for Gaia. She was spotted at a petrol station near Swanage at 2.55pm and was then seen on CCTV before banging on Rosemary Dinch’s door. She was then picked up on a car dashcam, before a pile of clothes were found, then a body nearby
Residents in the hometown of Gaia Pope have been paying their respects at the town’s war memorial, laying flowers, lighting candles and leaving messages
Police investigation: A body of a woman who police believe to be Gaia was found approximately a mile from her home and near to where a pile of her clothes were recovered on Thursday
Gaia Pope’s father Richard Sutherland thanks members of the public before a community search at Durlston Country Park in Dorset on Saturday
The discovery of a body was made at around 3pm on Saturday by specialist search teams on land south of Swanage – close to where clothing positively identified as belonging to the teenager was found on Thursday
The news of the discovery of Miss Pope’s body on Saturday night came hours after hundreds of people joined searches around Swanage looking for the teenager, who suffered from severe epilepsy
Describing the police operation, he added: ‘The officers running this investigation seem to be a bunch of wooden tops.
‘It especially feels like they arrested Paul just to make it look like they were doing something.
‘It’s felt like they can’t find the poor girl so they said ‘ let’s go and nick him’. ‘We have only ever tried to help – both Gaia and the police.
‘But what my family has been through due to Rosemary’s act of kindness in inviting Gaia into her home is terrible.
‘What was she supposed to do? Say ‘you don’t look at all well but don’t come in’? Is that what the world has come to?
‘Paul wasn’t even around at the time, he was working 30 miles away. You would’ve thought the police could work that out.
‘When they had Nathan in they asked him no more than 10 questions in 24 hours. It’s ridiculous. ‘
Defiant: Paul’s father Greg Elsey told MailOnline his son was innocent and said he believed police were unfairly targeting his family. Above, Nathan Elsey, 19, pictured left with grandfather Greg, right on Thursday
‘She is the light of my life’: Gaia’s younger sister Clara broke down in an emotional interview as she described how her sister was ‘passionate, creative, and emotionally wise’
Dorset Police said the discovery of a body was made at 3pm yesterday but the announcement came five hours later. It is understood the delay could be due to identification issues
A forensic tent sits in place where a body was found on a coastal path in Swanage
Floral tributes have begun to be left on the Alfred Monument, next to the sea front in Swanage
Dorset Police said they were confident they had found Miss Pope, who has not been seen for 11 days, and said the death was being treated as unexplained
On Thursday, police discovered items of women’s clothing similar to those worn by Gaia strewn in a field some 200 yards from a 70ft clifftop
Greg Elsey said: ‘You’ve seen my ex-wife? She carries around an oxygen tank for goodness sake. Pictured, Rosemary Dinch seen leaving her ex-husband Greg’s home, with her oxygen tank on Thursday
Aspiring 19-year-old actor Nathan Elsey, who appeared in Dunkirk, seen leaving Gregory Elsey’s house on Thursday
‘And you’ve seen my ex-wife? She carries around an oxygen tank for goodness sake.
‘We will take action for wrongful arrest. This has ruined their lives. Mud sticks doesn’t it.
‘Police should have said they were talking to someone who was helping them. Instead they said they arrested people on suspicion of murder.
Greg Elsey said: ‘My family has totally been the victim of a witch hunt’
‘In terms of a smear on someone’s character, it really doesn’t get much worse, does it?’
Paul, who was arrested on Thursday afternoon but released after just 24 hours, plus Nathan and his grandmother Rosemary had stayed at Greg’s detached bungalow on Friday evening but it is understood they are all now staying elsewhere.
On Friday night, after Paul’s release, Greg Elsey said: ‘Police 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.
‘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.’
Dorset Police found a body in Swanage on Saturday afternoon but the announcement came five hours later.
It is understood the delay could be due to identification issues.
In an emotional interview last night, Gaia’s sister and cousin broke down on television as they thanked the army of volunteers who helped in the huge search operation.
Speaking to ITV News, older sister Clara Pope-Sutherland said: ‘I just want to tell everybody that every minute of your hard work has been absolutely worth it.’
Clara said she would always refer to her sister in present tense and emotionally said she would never stop describing herself as one of three sisters now that Gaia was found deceased.