POLICE officers trawled a river in search of missing teen Bernadette Walker today, as her parents appeared in court accused of murder.
Sarah Walker, 37, and her partner Scott Walker, 50, are jointly accused of killing their daughter Bernadette, 17, who went missing eight-weeks-ago.
They were charged on Monday – even though the body of college student Bernadette has not yet been found.
Officers have been searching an area of open Fenland for the teen, criss-crossed by farm tracks and waterways around Cowbit near Spalding, Lincs. – around ten miles north of Bernadette’s home.
The search team began by scouring the River Welland in Cowbit this morning as a diver was pictured under water.
They were pictured walking through open fields of stubble yesterday and today, using sticks to probe undergrowth alongside water-filled ditches clogged with weed.
Cops have also been searching for clues at a garage crammed with possessions in Churchfield Road, Peterborough, around a mile from Bernadette’s home.
They are expected to spend up to several weeks carrying out searches across a wide area stretching several miles.
Parents Sarah Walker and Scott Walker, 50, are both accused of murdering Bernadette, who was reported missing on July 21 from their five-bedroom council house in Central Square, Peterborough.
The couple, who have nine children including a six-month-old baby, both wore black T-shirts when they appeared via video link from separate prisons today.
Neither of them made a plea to the charge of murder during the short hearing before Judge Sean Enright.
No applications were made for bail and the case was adjourned for a date to be fixed.
Bernadette’s parents told police they last saw her on July 18 when she ran out of their car.
They said they received a text nearly two days later at 1am on July 20 to say that she would be returning home “soon” to the family’s five bedroom council home.
But when they heard nothing more, she was reported missing the following day on July 21.
Detectives from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit revealed on September 12 that they were treating the teenager’s disappearance as a “no body” murder investigation.
Officers arrested Mr Walker on Friday and then arrested Mrs Walker on Saturday night on suspicion of her murder.
Officers spent the weekend standing guard outside their home which was cordoned off with police tape.
Specialist forensic officers were seen going in and out of the house along with a police dog handler and her spaniel sniffer dog.
While Bernadette was missing, mum Sarah had urged the public to distribute posters.
She said: “We have had no contact with her since 1am on July 20, when she texted me to say she would be home soon. None of her friends have heard from her and she’s not accessed social media.”
She added: “I can’t eat or sleep properly. I miss and love my eldest princess so much, she’s missing out on her baby sister, who has learned to smile and coo already.
“I have to think that she is hiding at one of her friend’s homes, worried about coming home now that the police will want to speak to her, I can’t think of any alternative scenarios, I just can’t.
“I know my baby girl wouldn’t be out in the open. She’s scared of being out in the dark alone, that’s what makes me think she’s at a friend’s house.
“I just wish someone would just say she’s here and she’s safe. I want to cuddle her, but right now I’d accept that she’s safe and well.”
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Dad Scott also appealed for information, saying: “You can imagine how much we are both worried.
“We miss you. We need to know that you’re safe. We love you.”
A provisional date for the start of a trial which is expected to last two or three weeks was set for March 16.