Forensics teams have been searching ditches and woodland in a village for nearly a week in a mystery investigation – as locals speculate it may be linked to the disappearance of a man earlier this year.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed that teams had been scouring areas around Hedgerley in Buckinghamshire for several days but refused to reveal why, but it comes just days after an arrest was made over the disappearance and murder of Mohammed Shah Subhani – known as ‘Shah’.
Shah, 27, failed to return to his home in Hounslow, West London on Tuesday, May 7 and seven arrests have now been made over his disappearance, the latest of which was made on Monday when a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Residents of Hedgerley have expressed concern over the large-scale police investigation in their village, with some suggesting on social media that there were up to 25 police vehicles and forensic tents.
Various police vehicles at the scene of the investigation in Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire, today
Police conduct a fingertip search on ground marked out by tape in a grid formation today
Police vehicles and a tent at the scene in the Buckinghamshire village during the probe today
Police tape and evidence identification markers on woodland floor in Buckinghamshire today
They said officers had been searching for the past six days in areas on both sides of the M40 flyover, but police have not told locals why they are there.
Forensic officers are said to have established two portable cabins at the site, and have been searching the woodland, taking photographs and using a drone.
A resident living who had passed the search scene several times since the Metropolitan Police vehicles arrived, said he had heard that the hunt might involve a murder.
‘No-one from the police saying anything useful at the moment so it is very frustrating. One of my friends said he had read about a missing man from Hounslow, which is not that far away. Apparently, this could be part of that investigation. We are very concerned and wish someone would tell us what is going on.’
The resident, who refused to give his name, added: ‘People have been killed in London before and their bodies driven out into the Buckinghamshire countryside where it is quiet. We just wonder if this is one of those cases. There are a lot of officers and forensic teams wearing white suits.’
While another, a local middle-aged man who did not want to be named, said: ‘We have no idea what is going on, police have been here for days now.
‘There are so many of them. We feel like we’ve been left in the dark, I hope it is nothing too serious but I feel from the scale of police attendance, that it is.’
More police arrived on Monday and large screens were put up to protect the site from view, with a two-way road now down to just one lane.
A police spokesman said: ‘Officers are currently conducting extensive searches in an area of open land in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, in connection with an ongoing Met Police investigation. We are not discussing further at present.’
Forensic investigators look into a concrete pit indicated with an evidence identification marker during a search in the Buckinghamshire village of Hedgerley on December 7
Police evidence bags on woodland floor during the search in Buckinghamshire on December 7
A police forensic tent sits in woodland in Hedgerley on December 7 as the probe continues
Locals said that police had so many vehicles they have had to close one side of the road
Investigators were originally searching at two sites to the south of the M40, one close to the junction of Wapseys Lane and Hedgerley Lane.
But their attention is now focused on a site near Hedgerley Lane to the north of the motorway.
Locals said that police had so many vehicles they have had to close one side of the country road to provide parking space.
A drone has been used in the search, and floodlights and cabins have been set up. At one point, police officers were brought in by minibus to help with the search.
Police said on Monday that they are still convinced people know what happened to Shah, but officers have not said whether this investigation is linked.
Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, from Specialist Crime, who is leading the investigation into Shah’s disappearance, said: ‘Our investigation continues to gather pace, and this latest arrest shows how determined we are to establish what happened to Shah.
‘I am still convinced that there are people with information who are yet to come forward and speak with us. It is vitally important that we piece together Shah’s movements and who he had contact with shortly before his disappearance.
‘A substantial reward of £20,000 remains on offer for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those involved. I would urge anyone who can help Shah’s family to call police or Crimestoppers. Those in the know, just imagine the pain your silence is causing Shah’s loving family.’
Shah’s car was recovered with ballistic damage on Wednesday, June 19 and this, taken with the circumstances of his disappearance, have led to police treating the case as a murder inquiry.