WOODLAND was sealed off as an investigation into the murder of a teenager moved to East Lancashire.
A dozen officers spent all day combing a section of Sunnyhust Wood in Darwen yesterday after a car linked to the death of Jonjo Highton was discovered in a car park near the Sunnyhurst pub.
The 18-year-old was stabbed in the neck after he was allegedly set upon by a large group of men.
Detectives believe somebody in the town could hold the key to their inquiries into the death of the Preston teenager.
They are calling on anyone who may have seen the blue Vauxhall Vectra being driven or somebody getting out of it to come forward.
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The discovery followed an appeal, issued last Tuesday, to trace the car, which has the registration number KG04 EJU, along with a grey Renault Megane Scenic.
Mr Highton was stabbed to death in St Stephen’s Road, Deepdale, on August 23.
A post-mortem examination found he was killed by a blade wound to the neck.
The investigation has already seen seven men charged with murder.
A police spokeswoman said: “A search of the area was conducted by trained officers following the discovery of a Vauxhall Vectra in relation to the the murder investigation surrounding Jonjo Highton.
“We put an appeal out to trace the car last week as we believe it was involved in the incident.”
Det Supt Eddie Thistlethwaite also made a plea to the public for information.
He said: “We are determined to thoroughly investigate the tragic murder of Jonjo Highton.
“We continue to make good progress with this investigation, however we are still keen to trace people who may have been involved in the incident.
“I would encourage anyone with any information at all about the murder to contact the police before we visit you.
“Do you know who has used this car within the last few weeks?”
Chairman of the Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood Dennis Gillibrand said he was shocked to hear the investigation had spread to the area.
He said: “It is a nice quiet place.
“I just hope they find something relevant to the murder investigation.
“I wonder if it is someone local who has left the car there. We want to find the people who did it.”
Denis Jepson, of Sunnyhurst, said: “We saw a lot of police cars whizzing past but didn’t know what was going on.
“When we found out they were investigating a murder it came as a real shock.”
Those charged with murder are Stephen Walton, 23, of no fixed address, Zaahid Patel, 19, of Park Avenue, Minhaj Musa, 20, of Deepdale Road, Sabaar Dal, 19, of Alice Square, Owen Whitesmith, 19, of Glebe Close, Arron Graham, 22, of Ripon Street, and Craig Walton, 26, of Watling Street Road, all in Preston.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.