UK police have arrested an aristocrat and her partner after the pair went missing with their newborn baby in early January, but the search for the infant continues.
A member of the public spotted Constance Marten, 35, and Mark Gordon, 48, in Brighton, southern England, on Monday night, police said Tuesday.
The couple were arrested at the location on suspicion of child neglect, officers said. They remain in custody.
Their baby, who police believe was born possibly one to two days before disappearing without receiving medical attention, is still missing and an “urgent search operation” is underway.
“Work is ongoing to try and locate the baby,” a spokesperson for the UK’s Metropolitan Police service told CNN Tuesday. “Anyone with information, we would ask them to call in if they’ve got something they think can help.”
The search for the couple and newborn began in early January, with police releasing several appeals and offering a £10,000 ($12,090) reward for information that would lead to their discovery.
In a renewed appeal for information last week, Detective Superintendent Lewis Basford of the Met’s East Area Command said more than 630 hours of security camera footage had been reviewed and police had received more than 350 calls from members of the public.
Basford said: “I would like to stress that we are not doing this and putting so many resources and efforts into finding the family just to be awkward or to interfere. We have a genuine concern for the health and wellbeing of the baby, and Constance and Mark, and it our duty to ensure that they are okay.”
Marten is the daughter of aristocrat Napier Marten, a film and music producer. In an audio appeal to his daughter, published by UK news outlet The Independent last month, Napier Marten said Constance was “much, much loved, whatever the circumstances,” adding that the family was “deeply concerned” for her and her child’s welfare.
“Darling Constance, even though we remain estranged at the moment, I standby, as I have always done and as the family has always done, to do whatever is necessary for your safe return to us.
“I beseech you to find a way to turn yourself and your wee (little) one into the police as soon as possible so you and he or she can be protected. Only then can a process of healing and recovery begin, however long it may take, however difficult it may be,” he added.
On January 5, police inquiries identified Marten and Gordon as the occupants of a car that had caught fire on a highway in the northwestern town of Bolton, England.
The pair were not at the scene and most of their belongings were destroyed in the fire, according to police, who launched a missing persons investigation.
Several confirmed sightings of the couple by members of the public were reported in the days following their disappearance.
The pair and their baby had left the highway safely, and police used sightings and security camera footage to map their movements through various UK cities and towns.
On January 7, the pair were seen in London with their faces covered leaving a taxi with an orange carrier bag and a pram.
Using cash, they paid for various items, including a two-man tent, two sleeping bags and two pillows, which made detectives fear they had been camping or sleeping rough, at a time of cold temperatures.
The couple dumped the buggy and other items later that day before continuing to travel.