Private prayers for April Jones were being said on Friday night as the desperate search for the schoolgirl continued.

Hope turned to despair as prime suspect Mark Bridger was arrested for murder and the prospect of finding April alive receded.

mark bridger april jones

April's parents released more photos of their missing daughter as it was announced Mark Bridger can be held until Saturday

Officers were granted a further 24 hours to question the 46-year-old over the five-year-old's disappearance.

It means police have until 3.30pm on Saturday to quiz him further before they either have to charge or release him.

Officers said efforts to find April would not be scaled back as emergency services including the Coastguard, RNLI, RAF mountain rescue and 150 members of mountain rescue teams from across the UK continued the hunt.

Residents in the mid Wales market town of Machynlleth are still hopeful of finding the missing school alive, as many wore pink ribbons - the youngster's favourite colour - to symbolise hope.

april missing

The hunt for April Jones is now a murder inquiry

The message was a demonstration of the close knit community's support for April's family, who have been devastated by her disappearance.

The 46-year-old suspect appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court where an application was made for a further warrant of detention, allowing police until Saturday afternoon before they will have to charge or release him.

The latest developments came as April's parents Paul, 43, and Coral, 40, issued three new photographs of their daughter.

Following his brief appearance before the town's magistrates, Bridger, a former leisure centre worker, was flanked by two officers as he was escorted back to Aberystwyth Police Station with a blue sheet over his head.

April was seen willingly getting into a 4x4-style vehicle on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in the town of Machynlleth at 7pm on Monday.

mark bridger car locator

Bridger was walking in the direction of Machynlleth when he was detained by police

The one-time lifeguard was picked up on a main road not far from the river Dyfi - with his blue Land Rover Discovery found at a nearby repair garage.

Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan told a press conference in Aberystwyth earlier on Friday: "Mark Bridger has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of April Jones.

Looking tired and drawn, and sporting a pink ribbon to show his support for April's family - he renewed an appeal for information regarding Mr Bridger's movements.

He said: "While this is a significant development in the investigation, I once again appeal to the public for information which may help us find April.

"We are looking to trace the movements of Mark Bridger between 6.30pm on Monday and 3.30pm on Tuesday and any sightings of him between these times.

"We also need information regarding the movements of the blue Land Rover Discovery, registration L503 MEP, between these times."

The close community of Machynlleth still harboured hope of finding her alive.

One pensioner, who did not want to be named, said: "If the power of positive thinking could bring her back she would be here now.

"Privately, I'm still praying that she will be found alive. We're waiting for a miracle in this town - but they sometimes do happen."

Teaching staff at April's primary school are also praying for a miracle.

Acting headteacher Gwenfair Glyn took the step of publicly announcing that the school has not given up hope.

Reacting to news that police are now treating April's disappearance as a murder inquiry, she said everyone is "desperately worried by today's news".

But she added: "We are still clinging to hope that April will be returned to us.

"As more time goes on we are becoming increasingly concerned for her safety but we refuse to give up hope and are praying that April is alive."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Search Continues For April Jones After Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder

    ABERYSTWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 08: A police officer tries to prevent a member of the public from getting at a prison van believed to contain Mark Bridger as it leaves Aberystwyth Justice Centre on October 8, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house last week in Machynlleth, Wales and Bridger was arrested last Tuesday, the day after she went missing and has been charged with her murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice. Police continue their search for the young girl. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Search Continues For April Jones After Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder

    ABERYSTWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 08: A member of the public approaches a prison van believed to contain Mark Bridger, to shout abuse as it leaves Aberystwyth Justice Centre on October 8, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house last week in Machynlleth, Wales and Bridger was arrested last Tuesday, the day after she went missing and has been charged with her murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice. Police continue their search for the young girl. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • April Jones missing

    A man attacks a prison van as it leaves Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court where Mark Bridger, 46, appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    A man attacks a prison van as it leaves Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court where Mark Bridger, 46, appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • Search Continues For April Jones After Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder

    ABERYSTWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 08: Members of the public and policemen look on as a prison van believed to contain Mark Bridger as it leaves Aberystwyth Justice Centre on October 8, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house last week in Machynlleth, Wales and Bridger was arrested last Tuesday, the day after she went missing and has been charged with her murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice. Police continue their search for the young girl. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Search Continues For April Jones After Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder

    ABERYSTWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 08: A prison van believed to contain Mark Bridger, who has been charged with the murder of April Jones, leaves Aberystwyth Justice Centre on October 8, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house last week in Machynlleth, Wales and Bridger was arrested last Tuesday, the day after she went missing and has been charged with her murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice. Police continue their search for the young girl. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • Search Continues For April Jones After Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Murder

    ABERYSTWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 08: Media record outside Aberystwyth police station where Mark Bridger, who has been charged with the murder of April Jones, prepares to leave on October 8, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales. Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house last week in Machynlleth, Wales and Bridger was arrested last Tuesday, the day after she went missing and has been charged with her murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice. Police continue their search for the young girl. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • April Jones missing

    A prison van leaves Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court believed to be carrying Mark Bridger, 46, who appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    Members of the public wait for the van to leave outside Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court after Mark Bridger, 46, appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    A prison van leaves Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court believed to be carrying Mark Bridger, 46, who appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    ALL TV OUT. ALL TV RELATED INTERNET SITES OUT. Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Mark Bridger as he appears in the dock of Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    A prison van leaves Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court believed to be carrying Mark Bridger, 46, who appeared today accused of the abduction and murder of five-year-old April Jones.

  • April Jones missing

    A Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth and prayers for April Jones, held by Reverand Kathleen Rogers and Bishop of Bangor Andrew John.

  • April Jones missing

    A Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth and prayers for April Jones, held by Reverand Kathleen Rogers and Bishop of Bangor Andrew John.

  • April Jones missing

    A Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth and prayers for April Jones, held by Reverand Kathleen Rogers and Bishop of Bangor Andrew John.

  • April Jones missing

    Villagers walk to Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth.

  • April Jones missing

    Villagers walk to Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth.

  • April Jones missing

    A Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth and prayers for April Jones, held by Reverand Kathleen Rogers and Bishop of Bangor Andrew John.

  • April Jones missing

    Forensic officers search the home of Mark Bridger - who has been arrested on suspicion of murder - as the hunt for missing April Jones resumed in Machynlleth, mid Wales.

  • April Jones missing

    Villagers walk to Sunday church service at St Peter's Church in Machynlleth.

  • April Jones missing

    BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. Undated handout photo issued by Dyfed-Powys Police of April Jones who was abducted while out playing near her home in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth, Mid Wales on Monday night. Issue date: Friday October 5, 2012. See PA story POLICE Missing. Photo credit should read: Dyfed-Powys Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

  • April Jones missing

    BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. Undated handout photo issued by Dyfed-Powys Police of April Jones who was abducted while out playing near her home in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth, Mid Wales on Monday night. Issue date: Friday October 5, 2012. See PA story POLICE Missing. Photo credit should read: Dyfed-Powys Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

  • April Jones missing

    BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE. Undated handout photo issued by Dyfed-Powys Police of April Jones who was abducted while out playing near her home in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth, Mid Wales on Monday night. Issue date: Friday October 5, 2012. See PA story POLICE Missing. Photo credit should read: Dyfed-Powys Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    ABERYSWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 05: Mark Bridger is led from Aberyswyth police station to appear before magistrates in the town on October 5, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales . Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested the main suspect in the case, Mark Bridger, on suspicion of murder. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    ABERYSWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 05: Mark Bridger is led from Aberyswyth police station to appear before magistrates in the town on October 5, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales . Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested the main suspect in the case, Mark Bridger, on suspicion of murder. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Britain-missing-child-police

    Police search teams enter the River Dyfi near to the home of Mark Bridger near Machynlleth, mid-Wales, on October 5, 2012 as the search for missing five-year-old girl April Jones continues. A man was arrested on suspicion of the murder of a missing five-year-old girl in Wales whose disappearance has gripped Britain. Mark Bridger, 46, was held as officers stepped up their hunt for April Jones, who was last seen on Monday evening in her hometown of Machynlleth in a mountainous area, getting into a car.AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain-missing-child-police

    Police search teams enter the River Dyfi near to the home of Mark Bridger near Machynlleth, mid-Wales, on October 5, 2012 as the search for missing five-year-old girl April Jones continues. A man was arrested on suspicion of the murder of a missing five-year-old girl in Wales whose disappearance has gripped Britain. Mark Bridger, 46, was held as officers stepped up their hunt for April Jones, who was last seen on Monday evening in her hometown of Machynlleth in a mountainous area, getting into a car.AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 03: Canoeists search river banks close to where Mark Bridger was arrested on October 3, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 03: Canoeists search river banks close to where Mark Bridger was arrested on October 3, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 03: Police search a garden close to where Mark Bridger was arrested on October 3, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 03: Police search a garden close to where Mark Bridger was arrested on October 3, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Police search Mark Bridger's house in the village of Ceinws as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Police search Mark Bridger's house in the village of Ceinws as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Police search Mark Bridger's house in the village of Ceinws as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Britain-missing-child-police

    A police officer stands outside the last known address of Mark Bridger, the man arrested in connection with the abduction of April Jones near Machynlleth, mid-Wales, on October 4, 2012. The search for a missing five-year-old girl in a rural area of Wales was stepped up, three days after she went missing. April Jones was last seen getting into a vehicle on Monday near her home in the rural market town of Machynlleth. Rescuers appealed for volunteers with 'good local knowledge' to search 32 villages around the town as it emerged that the missing girl needs regular medication for cerebral palsy. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain-missing-child-police

    A police officer stands outside the last known address of Mark Bridger, the man arrested in connection with the abduction of April Jones near Machynlleth, mid-Wales, on October 4, 2012. The search for a missing five-year-old girl in a rural area of Wales was stepped up, three days after she went missing. April Jones was last seen getting into a vehicle on Monday near her home in the rural market town of Machynlleth. Rescuers appealed for volunteers with 'good local knowledge' to search 32 villages around the town as it emerged that the missing girl needs regular medication for cerebral palsy. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Police search Mark Bridger's house in the village of Ceinws as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 near Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    ABERYSWYTH, WALES - OCTOBER 05: Mark Bridger is taken in a prison van from Aberyswyth police station to appear before magistrates in the town on October 5, 2012 in Aberystwyth, Wales . Five-year-old April Jones was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested the main suspect in the case, Mark Bridger, on suspicion of murder. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search along the banks of the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams prepare to continue their search along the banks of the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search along the banks of the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Media satellite trucks outside the leisure centre in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, as search and rescue teams continue their search along the banks of the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • April Jones missing

    Search and rescue teams continue their search on the River Dyfi in Machynlleth, Mid Wales, for missing five-year-old April Jones, who was last seen willingly getting into what is believed to be a Land Rover Discovery on the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lives at 7pm on Monday.

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Members of a mountain rescue team search the River Dyfi as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 in Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Members of a mountain rescue team search the River Dyfi as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 in Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Members of a mountain rescue team search the River Dyfi as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 in Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Police Search For Missing 5 Year Old April Jones

    MACHYNLLETH, WALES - OCTOBER 04: Members of a mountain rescue team search the River Dyfi as the hunt for missing April Jones continues on October 4, 2012 in Machynlleth, Wales. April Jones, a five-year-old girl was abducted from outside her house on Monday night. Police have arrested 46-year-old Mark Bridger in connection with her disappearance in the Machynlleth area. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)