The Crown Prosecution Service in England has confirmed it is considering information from police which could have an impact on the case of murdered Genette Tate.
Devon and Cornwall Police have long suspected serial child-killer Robert Black of murdering 13-year-old Genette.
Genette, a newspaper delivery girl, vanished from a rural lane in Aylesbeare, Devon, in August 1978. Her body has never been found.
There is now new hope of a prosecution in the case, after Black lost an appeal last year against his latest conviction for the murder of nine-year-old Northern Ireland girl, Jennifer Cardy.
Black argued that his trial was prejudiced because details about three other child murders he had already been jailed for were revealed to the jury.
Nikki Haywood, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) south west complex casework unit, confirmed: “The CPS is considering information provided by Devon and Cornwall police and any potential impact it may have in respect of the Genette Tate case.
“Consideration is at a very early stage at this time, and no final decisions have been made in relation to any aspect of this case.”
Devon and Cornwall Police said they were at a “very early stage” of liaising with the CPS about the impact the appeal could have on the case.
“Devon and Cornwall Police is liaising with the complex case unit of the Crown Prosecution Service, to ascertain if the 2013 Court of Appeal judgment following the murder of Jennifer Cardy in Northern Ireland has any bearing on the Genette Tate case,” a force spokeswoman said.
“This liaison is still at a very early stage and will take some time to complete.”
The appeal could pave the way for police to launch a case against Black based on his previous convictions.
Genette’s father John Tate told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he felt “pretty happy” that police have confidence in their investigation, although he hoped they had not overlooked other suspects by spending time focusing on Black.
Mr Tate said it had been difficult to cope since the disappearance of his daughter, as the incident was never far from his mind.
“You look at everything that it could possibly be to do with her. You just cope very poorly sometimes,” he said.
Mr Tate said he believed the police coped very well with the case, adding: “It’s been pretty good ... they wanted her DNA and it was taking forever and then we had a new chief constable, a female, and within two weeks she had it.
“She put it in a different way, she went privately with it and it worked out perfectly.
“I haven’t been disenchanted with them, apart from their lack of contact sometimes, but what do you do?”
Black was found guilty in 1994 of the three child murders in the 1980s – those of 11-year-old Susan Maxwell, from the Scottish Borders, five-year-old Caroline Hogg, from Edinburgh, and Sarah Harper, 10, from Morley, near Leeds.
His reign of terror finally ended in 1990 when he was caught red-handed with a six-year-girl hooded, bound, gagged and stuffed in a sleeping bag in the back of his van in the Scottish village of Stow. He had sexually assaulted her moments earlier.
In 2011 he was prosecuted for a fourth murder – that of Jennifer Cardy, who was snatched as she cycled to a friend’s house in Ballinderry, Co Antrim, in 1981.
The paedophile is serving a total of 12 life sentences for murder and kidnap.