Moira Anderson went missing aged 11 in 1957
Eleven-year-old Moira Anderson disappeared from her home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on February 23, 1957, while running an errand for her grandmother.
Divers and forensics experts yesterday started investigating five “areas of interest” of the Monkland Canal – identified during a scoping exercise last week.
Prosecutors say that convicted paedophile bus driver Alexander Gartshore would have faced prosecution for Moira’s murder if he were still alive.
A reinvestigation has identified six sites where the body may have been disposed of within a 170m (185-yard) area of the canal.
Last week, police confirmed that “five distinct areas of anomalies” within the water and silt layer had been identified by experts using ground-penetrating radar, sonar scanning and magnetometry.
The stretch of water at Low Palacecraig, in Carnbroe, Coatbridge, is around 900m (1,000 yards) from where Moira was last seen and is close to Gartshore’s bus route. In addition, a man matching Gartshore’s description was spotted walking towards the canal carrying a full sack on the morning after Moira vanished.
The search could uncover bone fragments, jewellery or clothing
If Moira’s remains are at the site, the search is likely to uncover bone fragments, jewellery or clothing.
The land round about the canal has not changed much in 60 years
Detective Superintendent Pat Campbell
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The second phase of this operation will commence with divers from Police Scotland’s marine unit, conducting a search of the identified areas.
“The second phase will focus on identifying and removing relevant items located within the established areas of interest.”
Those involved in the search include forensic soil expert Professor Lorna Dawson and Dame Professor Sue Black, director of anatomy and human identification at the University of Dundee.
Police have identified six sites where Moira's body might have been dumped
If the search of the canal does not provide any answers, officers will then move on to the other five sites of interest, which are all within the Coatbridge area.
Last week, Detective Superintendent Pat Campbell, who is leading the inquiry, said: “The land round about the canal has not changed much in 60 years.
“We know it’s been dredged three times but that’s taken place only really at the sides of the canal in general.
“We remain optimistic that we can recover her remains and bring closure to her family, but it will be challenging.”