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SA police arrest suspect in 30 year old murde -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Three decades after a 10 year-old girl vanished from her bedroom in southern Adelaide, a man who lived nearby has been charged with her murder.

In the years since Louise Bell disappeared there've been countless appeals, searches and even the botched conviction of another man. But today South Australian Police announced a breakthrough, arresting a 65 year-old man in Port Lincoln.

Kim Robertson reports.

KIM ROBERTSON, REPORTER: It's been one of the longest-running police investigations in South Australia. Now: a breakthrough.

GRANT STEVENS, SA DEP. POLICE COMMISSIONER: Police today have arrested a 65 year-old man for the 1983 murder of schoolgirl Louise Bell.

KIM ROBERTSON: That man is Dieter Pfennig, a suspect in the case for two decades. Detectives went to Port Lincoln to arrest him this morning.

GRANT STEVENS: We never close the book on these. Major Crime will continue to investigate these serious crimes.

KIM ROBERTSON: 10 year-old Louise Bell was last seen in January 1983 when her parents put her to bed in their Hackham West home, south of Adelaide. Her sister was sleeping in the same room.

GRANT STEVENS: During the course of the night, the room was entered through the window and Louise was taken. She was abducted and her body has not been recovered.

KIM ROBERTSON: Police have been reviewing Louise Bell's disappearance for the past two years following advances in forensic testing. Last year they subjected Pfennig's DNA to the testing and searched his former home. Police won't say if any evidence from that search helped form the basis of their case.

GRANT STEVENS: I will not be commenting specifically on any of the evidence that we are using.

KIM ROBERTSON: It was the second time his house had been searched by officers investigating the cold case. Pfennig lived two streets from the Bell house when she was abducted.

Today his solicitor made no application for bail when Pfennig appeared for a video link hearing with the Adelaide Magistrate's Court. He's been remanded in custody to reappear in court in February.

Police say forensic scientists as well as current and retired officers have been instrumental in the arrest.

GRANT STEVENS: Knowing that they're investigating the abduction and murder of a child plays, weighs heavy on Police officers' minds.

KIM ROBERTSON: The story has had several twists. Another man, Raymond John Geesing, served jail time for Louise Bell's murder in the 1980s but was released on appeal.

Police made contact with the Bell family today and say they remain devastated by her disappearance. They say that, although the breakthrough has reopened old wounds, it's given them renewed hope that Louise's body will one day be found.

GRANT STEVENS: It's good news but it's tinged with that degree of sadness that they are now going through another episode of this particularly gruesome story.

KIM ROBERTSON: A story now, perhaps, closer to a conclusion.

Kim Robertson, Lateline.