RESIDENTS spoke of their shock as their neighbourhood became the focus of a search for a teenager murdered nearly 16 years ago.

Uniformed officers stood guard at either end of the block of garages between Goddard Road and Crammavill Street, Stifford Clays, as diggers and a crane were moved in.

As the search began, neighbours quizzed officers about the search. They were notified by letter just minutes before teams moved in.

The letter warned that there would be restricted access to the garages from their gardens, and that “police activity will be taking place in the coming week”.

A 40-year-old mum-of- one, of Crammavill Street, said the area is usually a haunt for boy racers.

She was “in shock” at the thought that the garages could contain the body of Danielle Jones.

She said: “There was a previous dig in a garden at Chafford Hundred where some paving slabs were dug up.

“It belonged to my driving instructor who had work done by Stuart Campbell, and they thought this might have been part of the investigation. But they found nothing.

“Police flew a drone here this morning to take pictures of the site - it’s horrendous as the view from my daughter’s room can see it all. I hope this can give Danielle’s family peace.”

A Goddard Road resident, who did not want to be named, said she was the same age as Danielle at the time of her disappearance.

She said: “It’s horrible for the family, and I can’t believe it’s happening on our doorstep. I just want some answers for them really.”

Another resident added: “Why on earth weren’t the garages searched back them? Even the smallest amount of information should have called for them to be searched.”

Forensics officers began priming the site shortly after 9am on Monday and were working again on Tuesday.

The area, the size of a football pitch, was due to be excavated through the week by specialists.