A senior detective who is leading the search for a Southampton mum who has been missing for more than four years has said he fears she is dead.

But Detective Chief Inspector Toby Elcock said he doesn’t know if Joanne Sheen was murdered or if her body was moved after being found.

The 44-year-old was reported missing on February 22, 2020, having first disappeared in December 2019.

Since then, police have been searching for the “much loved” mother of three and DCI Elcock appeared on BBC's Crimewatch Live on Thursday to appeal for anyone with information about missing Joanne to come forward.

He said he believed that Joanne had come to harm and that he was certain she hadn’t left the country by legal means.

However, he was unable to confirm whether Joanne had been murdered or if her body had been moved.

He said: "It’s sad to say that I do think that Jo has probably come to harm. What I can say is Jo certainly hasn’t left the country by any legal means.

"But what I can’t say is if she has been murdered and her body has been moved or if she has been found deceased and someone moved her body due to fears of repercussions."

READ MORE: Who is missing Southampton woman Joanne Sheen?

He said there was a confirmed sighting of Joanne in a van on Denzil Avenue on November 30 2019 at 10.35pm.

She had a mobile phone which was lost in early December 2019 and there has been no movement since then.

DCI Elcock also confirmed there were unconfirmed sightings on Empress Road and in the nearby area in December 2019 and January 2020.

He said: “It was initially reported as a missing person investigation, later in 2020 due to the passage of time that we had no sighting of her whatsoever I raised it as a potential murder investigation.

“As a result of that five people were arrested nearer that time but have subsequently been released without charge. We’re currently following up on enquiries going forward.”

READ MORE: Neighbours react to police flat search in missing mum case

He also said there has been “a lot of activity” on Parsonage Road in the last couple of months and that it's "an area significant to my enquiries”.

He confirmed that Crimestoppers is renewing the appeal and offering £20,000 to anyone who knows where Joanne is or any successful prosecution of who was responsible for her death.

Joanne is described as really petite, 5ft 1in with long dark brown hair and a number of tattoos which include a daisy chain on her left forearm, a heart with a sword on her left arm and a tattoo on her foot.

He added: “I really do believe someone knows what has happened to Jo and where she is and those are the people that I am targeting and reaching out this morning.

“It’s really important that we understand exactly what happened to her and exactly where she is, if anything for her family more than anything else, need that kind of closure they need to understand what happened.”

Anyone with information can call Hampshire police 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting Operation Blackboard or 44200068330.