Police identify body found in woods as belonging to Louise Smith, 16

Police have confirmed that a body found in Hampshire woodland on Thursday is that of 16-year-old Louise Smith.

The teenager, from the Leigh Park area, was reported missing on VE Day earlier this month.

Hampshire Police said formal identification procedures had been completed and that the teenager’s family had been informed – and were being supported by specialist officers.

Forensic officers spent the day sifting through the first floor property belonging to the 29-year-old woman and her husband in Havant, Hampshire

Police have confirmed a body found in Hampshire woodland was that of 16-year-old Louise Smith

Mourners were today laying flowers at the site where a body was discovered in Hampshire during the search for missing 16-year-old Louise Smith. 

Today the teenager, who vanished on May 8, was described by family friends as a ‘charming young girl who had her whole life ahead of her’. 

Investigating forensic officers have also been photographed taking items from a flat in Leigh Park, Hampshire, where Louise was believed to be staying with a married couple, both 29.

Devastated members of the community said Louise was ‘just your typical teenager’ as they laid flowers at a woodland site where a body was found.  

Twenty five bouquets of flowers have now been laid at the entrance to Havant Thicket, a dense woodland where the body was found. 

The floral tributes are being laid just under two miles from Louise’s home, and the address where she was staying before her disappearance.

Eyewitnesses say that Louise was last seen at a skatepark around two miles from her home on May 8, the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 

Police officers were seen carrying items out of a property in Leigh Park, Hampshire, after a body was found in nearby woodlands in the search for 16-year-old Louise Smith

Police officers were seen carrying items out of a property in Leigh Park, Hampshire, after a body was found in nearby woodlands in the search for 16-year-old Louise Smith

On Thursday, Hampshire Police confirmed that a body had been found in nearby woodland and said they were in the process of identifying who it was

On Thursday, Hampshire Police confirmed that a body had been found in nearby woodland and said they were in the process of identifying who it was

Police are investigating her disappearance today as they search a flat belonging to a married couple where Louise had been living. 

Forensic officers have been sifting through the first floor property belonging to the 29-year-old woman and her husband in Havant. According to a friend, Louise had been under their care before she vanished.

Police also searched another property, a semi-detached house a mile away, where officers were understood to be looking for a ‘pair of trainers and petrol’.   

Family friend Jackie Meredith today laid a bouquet and described Louise as ‘girly’ and urged police to get to the bottom of the investigation.

Police also searched another property, a semi-detached house a mile away from Leigh Park. Pictured: An investigating officer takes items from the Leigh Park property

Police also searched another property, a semi-detached house a mile away from Leigh Park. Pictured: An investigating officer takes items from the Leigh Park property 

Investigating Special Forensic Service officers were seen putting items from a Leigh Park property into a marked police  van parked outside

Investigating Special Forensic Service officers were seen putting items from a Leigh Park property into a marked police  van parked outside

Mourners have been laying flowers at the site where a body was discovered in Hampshire during the search for missing 16-year-old Louise Smith

Mourners have been laying flowers at the site where a body was discovered in Hampshire during the search for missing 16-year-old Louise Smith

Mrs Meredith said: ‘She was a really lovely young girl and her family were lovely too.

‘She was just your typical teenager, she was a bubbly and funny girl. You could chat to her easily, she was a charming young girl and was always friendly to people.

‘She was very popular and had lots of friends, she had a large circle of them. She was a bit girly like teenage girls are, I really can’t express how lovely she was.

‘What has happened is disgusting, it’s just so sad. I really hope the police find out what happened to her, whatever it was.

‘We need to know, we all need to know as we live here. Her parents of course need to know, but we as a community need to know.

‘It is all such a shame… She had her whole life ahead of her.

I just hope the police find out what has happened and who done it.’ 

Mourners have been laying flowers at the site where a body was discovered in Hampshire during the search for missing 16-year-old Louise Smith

Mourners have been laying flowers at the site where a body was discovered in Hampshire during the search for missing 16-year-old Louise Smith

Pictured: A map showing the whereabouts of Louise Smith prior to police discovering a body

Pictured: A map showing the whereabouts of Louise Smith prior to police discovering a body

According to a family friend, Louise had been under thee care of a couple before she went missing. Pictured: Police carry out bagged items from a home in Leigh Park, Hampshire

According to a family friend, Louise had been under thee care of a couple before she went missing. Pictured: Police carry out bagged items from a home in Leigh Park, Hampshire

A 29-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of kidnap but were later released on bail.

Louise is said to have been experiencing problems at home with her mother, Rebecca Cooper, who lives a five-minute walk away from the flat where the teenager is said to have been staying with the married couple. 

A neighbour said: ‘On VE Day I saw a red van outside the flats and a girl getting into it with bundles of clothes. I reported this to police as it didn’t feel right.

‘I can’t say if it was definitely her but it was a girl around her age.’

Another local said: ‘Louise had been suffering from depression lately and had apparently been bullied at school.

‘She had an on-off boyfriend who himself had something of a troubled past. I’m not sure that he got on well with Louise’s mum. 

‘She spent a lot of time with this couple as a result. I think she had been living in that flat before she went missing.’

Forensic officers were pictured at work at the home they searched in Leigh Park

Forensic officers were pictured at work at the home they searched in Leigh Park

Louise Smith's friend Mandy Fernando (pictured) leaves flowers outside Havant Thicket in Hampshire, where the 16-year-old's body was found on Thursday

Louise Smith’s friend Mandy Fernando (pictured) leaves flowers outside Havant Thicket in Hampshire, where the 16-year-old’s body was found on Thursday

It was suggested Louise may have been staying in the flat after she fell out with mother Rebecca Cooper (pictured), 39, over boyfriend troubles

It was suggested Louise may have been staying in the flat after she fell out with mother Rebecca Cooper (pictured), 39, over boyfriend troubles

A resident living below the flat being searched by police told how the couple were led out by police in handcuffs on May 15.

He said: ‘I let the officers in. A short while later they emerged with the occupants of the flat upstairs and took them outside in handcuffs.’

A neighbour told police how he seemed ‘perfectly normal’, saying: ‘I told the officers that he was here sometime between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on May 8. 

‘The house is where his mum and sisters all live and where he himself used to live before he got married.  I asked how he was and he seemed perfectly fine, he didn’t look as though he was worried about anything.

‘She was placed in their care for the second time because she’d been having some issues with her mum. Last Friday police started searching the house. 

‘They were there all throughout last weekend. At first they were apparently looking for a mobile phone and then a phone SIM card. 

‘They later took what looked like some electrical items away.

‘ I understand they are now looking for a pair of trainers and some petrol.

‘The lady and her daughters who live there are nice people. I think it’s the woman’s son who the police are interested in.’ 

A police officer enters the property in Leigh Park after a body was found in woodlands

A police officer enters the property in Leigh Park after a body was found in woodlands

Mandy Fernando has known the 16-year-old since she was a little girl.

She laid flowers at the entrance to Havant Thicket in Hampshire where police discovered a body believed to be Louise’s.

Mandy described Louise as a lovely girl with a heart of gold. ‘The community is devastated, sad, shocked,’ Mandy said. ‘I can’t speak for everybody but when anyone hears of a young person, whoever it may be, it’s very sad.’

Louise’s neighbour John Singleton said he saw the girl on the day she went missing.

‘She just went out walking, I didn’t know where she was going. It’s very sad, the outcome is the saddest, for a while we had some hope.’ 

Specialist forensic officers have been seen taking 'bag loads' of items including carpet and clothing from the flat in Havant

Specialist forensic officers have been seen taking ‘bag loads’ of items including carpet and clothing from the flat in Havant

Police (pictured today) found a body in woodland during the hunt for Louise yesterday and confirmed they are treating it as suspicious

Police (pictured today) found a body in woodland during the hunt for Louise yesterday and confirmed they are treating it as suspicious

The teenager's last reported sighting was around midday on May 8 on Somborne Drive

The teenager’s last reported sighting was around midday on May 8 on Somborne Drive

It also emerged yesterday that Louise’s mother wrote on Facebook the day before police found a body how frustrated she was not being able to look for her daughter.

She wrote on Wednesday night: ‘I want to scream from the rooftops that I want to be looking everywhere. I have been told not to go searching the Thicket and Leigh Park Gardens, any search must be away from there.’ 

Police have issued a CCTV image showing Louise leaving a Tesco store on the evening before she disappeared.

An eyewitness said she had gone to the supermarket twice, once with her cousin’s husband earlier in the afternoon and then on her own in the evening.

He said: ‘I saw Louise enter Tesco with another man, her cousin’s husband, in the afternoon and then I saw her later in the day on her own buying a bag of ice.’

Police released a CCTV image of the teenager visiting a Tesco store in Greywell Road on May 7

Police released a CCTV image of the teenager visiting a Tesco store in Greywell Road on May 7

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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