Stuart Hazell has been officially charged with Tia Sharp's murder. The 37-year-old, who dated Tia's mother before dating her grandmother, is accused of murdering the 12-year-old schoolgirl.
Hazell was arrested on Friday, after the schoolgirl's body was discovered in the loft, of her grandmother's home in New Addington, South London. Hazell was arrested in Merton, eight hours later.
Tia had been missing for a week, and authorities searched the grandmother's property, three times before discovering the body, on the fourth search. Hazell was charged with murder, in the early hours of Sunday morning, August 12, after he was questioned by detectives.
On Saturday, Christine Sharp, Tia's grandmother, was interviewed at a South London police station, on suspicion of murder and Paul Meehan, a 39-year-old neighbour, was taken into custody on suspicion of assisting an offender. Both suspects were released on bail.
Police have apologized to Tia's mother for the delay in finding the body. A postmortem is to be carried out on Monday as it has not been established, how Tia died.
The Guardian reports that, Commander Neil Basu said: "It is now clear that human error delayed the discovery of the body within the house. We have apologised to Tia's mother that our procedures did not lead to the discovery of the body on this search."
The body was found at the house Hazell shares with Sharp, in the Lindens, New Addington, near Croydon. Tia was last seen alive at the Grandmother's property. Police initially interviewed Hazell as a potential witness, but released him. Hours later, he was arrested in South London. A schoolgirl spotted Hazell buying alcohol in an off-licence and alerted the police.
According to theweek.co.uk, earlier in the week Stuart Hazell had been questioned for two and a half hours before being released. Hazell will appear before magistrates on Monday morning. The house was thoroughly searched by police and a sniffer dog, but the body was left undiscovered.
A former senior detective with the Met, Colin Sutton spoke on Radio 4's Today programme explaining that there was a difficult balance to strike between investigation and respecting the feelings of Tia's grandmother and boyfriend - at that time thought of as victims. He explained that authorities may have been reluctant to conduct a highly intrusive search of the property, such as, removing side panels from baths or taking up floorboards, in case they upset Christine Sharp.
On Saturday, the Metropolitan Police apologised to Tia's mother, Natalie. They said that the body was not found due to human error. Around 100 police officers carried out searches along with many members of the local community, but over the week it proved fruitless. Although police have not revealed where the remains of Tia's body were found, they were seen taking a ladder into the home on Friday. This sparked rumors that the body may have been hidden in the loft, according to mirror.co.uk.