Police arrest three men over ‘conspiracy to murder’ missing ‘sex worker’

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Detectives probing the mystery disappearance of a mum-of-two almost a year ago have arrested three men on conspiracy to murder. 

Murder squad detectives are examining the possibility of a ‘plot to kill’ Joanna Sheen after arresting three men over her disappearance.  

Police believe Joanne was a sex worker in Southampton around the time she went missing.

Officers have combed the streets where she is belived to have worked and a nearby river in a bid to uncover anything that will help solve questions behind her disappearance. 

Joanne Sheen, 44, was last seen on on 5 December 2019 when she travelled back to Southampton from Fareham with a friend. Police have now arrested three men in connection with her disappearance

Joanne Sheen, 44, was last seen on on 5 December 2019 when she travelled back to Southampton from Fareham with a friend. Police have now arrested three men in connection with her disappearance 

Police have arrested three men in relation to the attack - two from Southampton, near where Joanne was last seen, and one in Basingstoke

Police have arrested three men in relation to the attack – two from Southampton, near where Joanne was last seen, and one in Basingstoke

Dark-haired Joanne, 44, was last seen on 5 December 2019 when she travelled back to Southampton from Fareham with a friend.

Although a body has not been found in the hunt for the ‘approachable’ and ‘full of joy’ Joanne, police have launched a murder investigation. 

Officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Team took into custody three men on Monday – a 50-year-old and 63 year old man from Southampton and a 29-year-old man from Basingstoke, Hants.

All three men have been arrested on conspiracy to murder.

Joanne was reported missing by her family on 22 February 2020, after they had not heard from her for several months. 

Hampshire Police confirmed today they are now treating is as a murder investigation.

In August a team of officers began a thorough search of the area around Empress Road in Southampton and the River Itchen that runs alongside it.

Joanne is still missing and her body has not been recovered. 

Police are now appealing for further information in relation to the mother of two’s disappearance. 

On September 3 2020 Joanne’s daughters Layla, 22, and Hayley, 25, went on ITV Meridian and made an emotional public appeal for help to find her.

They said it was not out of character for Joanne to occasionally not make contact with her family for some weeks, but as time went by they became increasingly concerned.

Police are investigating a 'plot to kill' after arresting three people on conspiracy to murder in connection with Joanne's disappearance. Officers believe the mum-of-two was a sex worker in Southampton and have been combing the city's streets and a nearby river for evidence

Police are investigating a ‘plot to kill’ after arresting three people on conspiracy to murder in connection with Joanne’s disappearance. Officers believe the mum-of-two was a sex worker in Southampton and have been combing the city’s streets and a nearby river for evidence

Hayley tole the broadcaster: ‘You can’t imagine what it is like with a loved one, when you know where they are, you don’t know if they’re okay.

‘Your mind is always turning on every single possibility that could’ve happened. It’s like turmoil but every day is the same. It just starts over every day.

‘At the end of the day we just want our mum right now. And there’s nothing like a massive cuddle from your mum just to make sure that everything is okay.’

Asked what they wanted to say directly to their mum, they said ‘We want you to come home. 

‘We miss you, we’re worried about you, and you are loved. Just come home. Please get in contact with us.’

Layla said ‘Mum is very approachable. Full of joy and full of life. She is really friendly and has got a bit of a spark.’ 

Hayley described her mum as ‘a lovely, loving person’.

Police have combed an area of Empress Road where it is believed she was a sex worker, and also carried out searches in the nearby River Itchen

Police have combed an area of Empress Road where it is believed she was a sex worker, and also carried out searches in the nearby River Itchen

Hampshire Police issued a missing person appeal on 17 April and on 4 August they renewed their plea for information.

Joanne, at just 5ft 1in tall, is known as Little Jo, or Jo Jo. 

Detectives say she does not have a permanent address, car or bank account.

On September 3 Superintendent Kelly Whiting told how police have been carrying out extensive enquiries.

Officers had ‘spoken to numerous witnesses, friends and associates of Jo’ to try and find out where she might be.

In August they combed an area of Empress Road where it is believed she was a sex worker.

Following a two day search a car was being investigated as well as ‘several other items’ which were being forensically tested.

Superintendent Whiting said ‘We know that Joanne used to work in and around  that area – Empress Road – so it is the most logical place to start our search for her.

‘We believe that she was a sex worker.’

She added ‘We have no idea where Joanne is so we are appealing for help.

‘We have to think about the possibility that she has come to harm, whether she has harmed herself or a third party has harmed her.

‘Last time we made an appeal to the public they gave us several lines of enquiry which clearly we have pursued and continue to review but any information at all would be really helpful.’ 

A spokesman for the force said: ‘If anyone has any information that may assist police with the investigation, they are being urged to call 101 and quote Operation Blackboard or 44200068330.’ 

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