Police hunting missing Sian O’Callaghan recruited an army of volunteers today after DOZENS of her friends turned up help search for the PA in hundreds of acres of forest.
Officers marshalled pals desperate to scour the undergrowth in Savernake Forest, near Marlborough, Wilts., where the pretty brunette’s phone signal was last detected.
They met scores of armchair detectives, desperate to track down 22-year-old Sian before briefing them on what to wear and handed out maps to help them in the search.
Volunteers were under strict orders not to search alone and not to bring dogs to the forest – as sniffer dogs were already working the patch.
Specialist tracking teams from other police forces were also drafted in to search the dense 4,500 acre woodland.
Police confirmed they were searching an area close to Savernake Lodge, deep within the forest.
Ch Insp Bob Edge, of Wiltshire Police, said the make-shift army was inching through woodland at Postern Hill campsite on main A346 Salisbury to Marlborough road.
He said: ”Other searches are taking place by officers in locations but we can’t yet confirm where these are.
”We don’t know the numbers involved in these searches. Our central base here is to help volunteers and we are briefing them as much as possible.”
A force spokesman added: ”If people find anything, it is very important they do not touch it. They must report to a police officer immediately.”
Around 20 volunteers first met at 8.30am to search a route named Grand Avenue on the opposite side of the forest, including a lane off the A4 Marlborough to Hungerford road.
A briefing session took place at 12.30pm – bringing together over 30 people who had set out on individual searches from first light.
Many used sticks to painstakingly search under leaves and in the plantations in the hopes of finding Sian’s purse or silver phone.
Helping co-ordinate some of the first searches was local businessman Graham Dobie, 45, who was patrolling paths off the route on horseback.
He said: ”I’ve taken today off work to help, it really strikes a chord with me her going missing, I have two children of similar age who both go to nightclubs.
”This may take some time, it just depends how far a phone or a purse can be thrown.
”I have very strong feelings after I heard police said they were searching here, I know this place like the back of my hand.
”My wife walks her dogs here and it’s a place that is very close to our hearts. We just hope we can help in some way.”
Other volunteers from Swindon, Marlborough and Hungerford also helped the effort after facebook pages appealed for help.
Mother and son Carolyn and Simon Sheppard from nearby Axford said they felt they wanted to do something after they saw the online appeal.
Carolyn said: ”We just wanted to help because you never know if you might find her phone or something that could help find her.”
Simon added: ”I’m off work and her going missing has just saddened us.
”I have friends who are mates with Sian on facebook so I thought it’s good to just try and do something.”
CCTV pictures show Sian leaving Suju nightclub, on Swindon’s High Street, at 2.50am on Saturday (19/3) after a night out with female pals.
But she did not return to the house on Westmorland Road – just half-a-mile away – she shares with boyfriend Kevin. He raised the alarm at 9.45am on Saturday.
Today cruel internet trolls besieged the Facebook group set up to find Sian O’Callaghan – mocking up pictures of the pretty PA’s dead body.
The Help Find Sian O’Callaghan group, which so far has attracted more than 14,000 members, was targeted by sick pranksters claiming Sian’s body had been found.
The callous yobs – known on the internet as ”trolls” – even posted a snap of country scene on the group and scattered pictures of Sian’s head and body parts around it.
Chillingly, they then wrote underneath: ”Hope this helps with the search x”.
The vile posts were slammed by horrified members of the group, who have helped organise a search for the 22-year-old brunette, missing since Saturday.
One member, Siobhan Phillips, said: ”This is disgusting. I cant believe there are such vile disgusting human beings. I feel physically sick.”
Another said: ”Somebody report this to the police ASAP.”
But despite being vilified for their acts, the trolls still ruthlessly tormented those battling to find Sian, from Swindon, Wiltshire.
One, called Dave Mustang from the US, bragged: ”Thanks, I’ll enjoy not being convicted for committing a non-crime.”
The abuse mirrors that directed on the Facebook group to find architect Jo Yeates, after trolls posted ”whore is dead” on the page when the body of the 25-year-old was found.
Despite the evil comments, the thousands of members on the group were still providing support and comfort for those close to Sian yesterday.
Friends of Sian and her quantity surveyor boyfriend Kevin Reape, 25, organised a search of the Savernake Forest, Wilts,. yesterday close to where her mobile phone signal was detected.
They are also planning a candle-lit vigil for the office worker tonight (Weds) in Swindon, to pray for her safe return.
The poignant service will take place at St Barnabus Church, in Gorsehill, Swindon at 7pm.
Andy Wells, a close pal of Mr Reape, wrote on the group about the pain his friend was feeling – but thanked members for their loyal support.
He said: ”As a close friend of Kevin’s it kills me to see him like this.
”He’s such a great friend to us and we are praying Sian comes home safe and sound to him and her family.
”She’s a wonderful girl who I know we will all see again soon and spend many more happy times with.
”Please pass as many messages regarding Sian to whoever you can so we can get her home to those who love her as soon as possible.
”Also it’s great to see so much care and support for her and the people close to her at this time.”