Video: Police 'examining a number of scenes' in search for Chloe Mitchell (21)
A senior police officer has said she hopes that Chloe Mitchell is safe and well as a major search operation continues in Ballymena.
Superintendent Gillian Kearney said police had launched a criminal investigation into the disappearance of the Co Antrim woman.
She said: “Police are continuing to search for 21-year-old Chloe Mitchell, who we are treating as a high-risk missing person. Firstly, I am appealing directly to make contact with the police, family or friends so we know you are safe and well. I am also asking the public to contact us if they have seen Chloe.”
Ms Kearney added: “We are becoming increasingly concerned about Chloe’s safety. It is out of character for her to not be in contact with her family. They are being supported by specialist officers during this worrying time.
“We have launched a criminal investigation into her disappearance and we are examining a number of scenes.”
She continued: “I hope Chloe is safe and well and that is why today we are appealing for information from anybody who may have seen her or may know where she is.”
Meanwhile, Ms Mitchell’s brother Philip urged anyone with information to contact the family.
Asked by the BBC how much he is missing his sister, Mr Mitchell said: “Words just can’t describe it, I am broke.”
Teams are searching a river near to where the young woman was last seen as well as surrounding property.
Chloe Mitchell was last seen on CCTV in the early hours of June 3 in Ballymena town centre.
Police are also continuing to question a 26-year-old man who was arrested in Lurgan on Thursday.
Police directed the search and rescue team to a section of the river in the Castle Gardens area of Ballymena today that included an embankment with an 18-feet drop.
Several Community Rescue Service vehicles including a specialist lowland search unit attended the site at the River Braid.
Darren Harper, district commander for Community Rescue Service, said search efforts had allowed them to eliminate some areas.
“Today’s search is going to be just a continuation on from the search areas yesterday, just eliminating the areas that Chloe may not be in,” he said.
Mr Harper said his team was well-equipped to deal with the difficulties in searching the steep embankment of the River Braid.
“We do have a tech team that will be able to get down there, so it’s not going to be so much of a challenge,” he said.
“It’s just because of the low light yesterday when this search area was identified within our search strategy. It was just a lot safer for our guys to try and access it during daylight hours.”
Ground teams searched the areas around the river but also close to a property in James Street, near to Ms Mitchell’s last known whereabouts, which has been cordoned off by police.
Mr Harper maintained that the teams were still hoping to find Ms Mitchell.
“Ground teams again, we’re searching for Chloe herself. As I say we’re just systematically searching in and around the area at the minute,” he said.
Police were knocking doors in the search areas around the river, asking residents if they were at home last Friday evening into Saturday morning and enquiring as to if they had CCTV at their property.
Independent councillor for Ballymena, Rodney Quigley, praised the efforts of the police and search and rescue teams, but said that people should not listen to rumours in relation to the case.
“There’s a bit of confusion at the minute, I’ve heard different reports,” he said.
“I want to stress that there’s a lot of rumours going about and for people not to be listening to the rumours.
“Obviously it’s a well-organised search and I feel the people just need to let search parties and the police continue with the search and investigation.”
Mr Quigley added that in his discussions with members of the local community there was very little information on what may have happened to Ms Mitchell to result in her disappearance.
“I know she was a local girl, and she’s been missing a week now, which is very concerning, but nobody seems to have seen or heard tell of her anywhere and I’ve been speaking to quite a few people,” he said.
Community groups in Ballymena had also been carrying out searches for Ms Mitchell on Thursday, including the Harryville Residents Association and Ballykeel and District Community Association.
Chief Inspector Arnie O’Neill said a 26-year-old man was arrested in Lurgan, Co Armagh, yesterday and is currently helping police with inquiries.
He added: “We are becoming increasingly concerned as to the whereabouts of 21-year-old Chloe Mitchell.
“We are now aware that Chloe was last seen in the late hours of June 2 into the early hours of June 3 in Ballymena town centre. She was seen on CCTV walking in the direction of James Street.
“Chloe was wearing a green and black North Face-style jacket, a white T-shirt, leggings and Nike trainers.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 2262 of June 5.