Louise Smith: Murder investigation launched after missing teenager's body found in woods

24 May 2020, 14:34

The body of 16-year-old Louise Smith was found in woods on Thursday
The body of 16-year-old Louise Smith was found in woods on Thursday. Picture: Hampshire Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A murder investigation has been launched after the body of missing teenager Louise Smith was found in woodland in Havant on Thursday.

The 16-year-old had been missing since the 8 May VE Day bank holiday when she was spotted in Somborne Drive, Havant, in Hampshire.

She was reported missing on the same day at around 6:30pm.

Appealing for information about her movements prior to the 16-year-old's death, Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Mackechnie said: "This is now a murder investigation and our focus is to identify who is responsible."

Louise was also seen on camera entering a Tesco Metro store on Greywell Road shortly before 7.30pm on Thursday 7 May.

Officers released a CCTV image and appealed for the public's help to piece together her final movements.

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: "Our priority remains focused on finding out what happened to Louise after she was last seen, and we are appealing for your help to piece together her final movements so we can bring whoever is responsible to justice."

Louise Smith had been missing since 8 May
Louise Smith had been missing since 8 May. Picture: Hampshire Police

The police want to trace her movements to the woodland site where she was discovered, which they believe may have taken place any time after she left the store.

DCS Mackechnie added: "It is crucial that we capture as much information as possible regarding the moments leading up to her death.

"We know that news of her murder will leave the community shocked and upset, but we are turning to you for your help, because information you have could be key in this investigation.

"Two weeks have passed since Louise was first reported missing. I am asking residents in Leigh Park to cast their minds back to Louise's disappearance a fortnight ago and provide any information to us that will help trace her movements from where she was last seen to the site at which her body was discovered."

At the time of her disappearance Louise was wearing black jeans, a black and white striped T-shirt, black trainers and a black coat with a fur hood.

Police are appealing for anyone with CCTV or dashcam footage from the area to get in touch.

The force also released a map showing where Louise was found and where she was last seen.

DCS Mackechnie said: "Please take a look at this map - if you live in the surrounding areas depicted on this map and have video footage or information, please get in touch.

"In addition, we're keen to hear from any dog walkers who use Havant Thicket and Staunton Country Park, drone operators, and cyclists with helmet cameras or Go Pros that may have been using the area on these days, but particularly the afternoon of VE Day."

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting 44200163113, or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. Information can be submitted online at mipp.police.uk/operation/44HC20E08-PO1.