A DNA sample of a man who came into contact with Nikki Allan before her death has become the focus of renewed inquiries into her horrific killing.
The seven-year-old schoolgirl was bludgeoned with a brick before she was then stabbed 37 times inside the basement of the Old Exchange in High Street East, just a short distance away from her home in Wear Garth.
Now, as the 25th anniversary of her shocking death is marked this weekend, those who came in contact with Nikki before she went missing have been asked to step forward and give a sample so they can be ruled out of the inquiry.
A specialist team from Northumbria Police has already begun to collect mouth swabs from men and is now reaching out to others who may have come into contact with the youngster in the hope it can narrow down its inquiry and find the killer, who continues to walk the streets all these years on.
Around 400 witnesses are associated with the inquiry and Northumbria Police has said it has already had a positive reaction from those it has spoken to as it gathers DNA tests.
This weekend officers will be out in the East End and Hendon as they begin to hand out thousands of leaflets as they appeal for information.
The forensic strand of this investigation is only one line of the inquiry and only one of the ways we may be able to eliminate any innocent party.Detective Inspector Paul Waugh
Detectives say they are keeping an open mind as they review evidence and look to gather more information.
Detective Inspector Paul Waugh, who is helping to head up the inquiry, said: “Although arrests have been made in connection with Nikki’s death, no one has yet been brought to justice for this atrocious act. “My team have recovered further forensic results which contain some male DNA.
“I’m keen to trace who had any form of contact with Nikki prior to her death.
“I am appealing for members of her family, friends or others who innocently may have come into contact with Nikki to come forward to have a DNA sample taken.
“This includes people who may think they have already provided DNA in the past to the police.”
He added scientific work is ongoing on samples already gathered.
Det Insp Waugh added: “The forensic strand of this investigation is only one line of the inquiry and only one of the ways we may be able to eliminate any innocent party.
“Although the murder happened 25 years ago it is still very much an active case for Northumbria Police and we will continue to investigate until Nikki’s killer is brought to justice.”
The leaflet, which will go on to be handed out to the wider community, details how she went missing after leaving her grandparents’ at 42 Wear Garth on the night of October 7 to go to her own home at 61 Wear Garth alone.
It features an efit of a man created with the help of a witness, with a number speaking to police about how they had seen a girl with a man walking along Low Street in the direction of the Old Exchange.