Police 'satisfied' body is missing woman Joanna Yeates

Greg Reardon and Joanna Yeates Mr Reardon reported Miss Yeates missing on Sunday

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Police have said they are "satisfied" a body found on Christmas Day is that of missing Bristol landscape architect Joanna Yeates.

A couple out walking their dogs discovered the snow-covered body in Longwood Lane in Failand, North Somerset.

Miss Yeates, 25, from Clifton, had not been seen since 17 December.

Police said the death was being treated as suspicious but post-mortem test results were not expected until Monday.

Miss Yeates is thought to have returned to the flat she shared with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, 27, after she was last seen at a Tesco Express store in Clifton at about 2030 GMT.

Mr Reardon was in Sheffield visiting family for the weekend and reported her missing to police when he returned home two days later.

Miss Yeates' keys, mobile phone, purse and coat had been left behind at their flat.

Freezing conditions

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "While a formal identification procedure is yet to be completed, police are satisfied that the body is that of 25-year-old landscape architect Joanna Yeates, who went missing during the weekend before Christmas."

He added: "A post-mortem examination has been taking place in Bristol today.

Rev Peter Gilks: "We just feel for them so very much"

"However, because of the extreme freezing conditions in which Joanna's body was found, it is unlikely that any findings from this will be known until tomorrow at the earliest.

"Officers are, however, treating Joanna's death as suspicious at this stage but will not be able to discuss this further until the results of the post mortem are known."

Tributes have been paid to Miss Yeates on a Facebook page which was set up to help find her.

Bec Wood wrote: "Rest In Peace Jo. You will always be loved and remembered for being so beautiful, kind, successful, and lovely.

"You made Greg so happy. Our thoughts are with Greg, your parents and all of your families and friends."

Michael Whitcher added: "Rest in peace little Jo, we will miss you always. My heart and thoughts go out to her family, and I am thankful I knew you."

Police have appealed for information which may help them fill in the gap between Miss Yeates' disappearance and the discovery of her body.

They were expected to continue their search of the Longwood Lane area throughout Sunday.

Search for answers

Ch Supt Jon Stratford, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to Joanna's family for their loss.

"We have not stopped working hard throughout the Christmas period to find their daughter after she was reported missing.

"Now we will work just as hard to discover exactly what happened to her and how she came to be in Longwood Lane on Christmas morning.

"Until the post-mortem examination is able to firmly establish how Joanna died, we are keeping an open mind about the cause of her death.

AT THE SCENE

Police search teams are back at Longwood Lane scouring the frozen ground, looking for anything that may help determine what happened here.

Raking leaves, picking their way through hedges, collecting anything they believe may be of interest into brown paper evidence bags.

The road is closed off and officers are paying particular attention to the snow-covered grass verge, where the body was found, near a quarry entrance.

This is a rural location, but it's only three miles from the centre of Bristol and the suburb of Clifton where Joanna was last seen.

The location is next to a golf course, several sports pitches and woodland. Today it is a very cold and sombre place.

"However, I would appeal to anyone with any information whatsoever that can help this investigation to please come forward and help us provide Joanna's parents with the answers they so desperately want and need."

Miss Yeates' parents, David and Teresa, from Ampfield, Hampshire, made an emotional appeal for her return last week, saying they feared she had been abducted from her home and that she could be dead.

Police said she had been to the Bristol Ram pub in Bristol's Park Street the night she disappeared, but she had left there at about 2000 GMT.

They then issued CCTV images of Miss Yeates visiting a Waitrose store on The Triangle and then the Tesco Express store, where she bought a pizza.

While a receipt for the food was found at her address, no trace has been found of the pizza or its wrapping and detectives believe its whereabouts could hold a vital clue in the case.

Officers are also keen to hear from people who may have seen anything or anyone acting suspiciously over the past week in the Longwood Lane area.

The priest in charge of Ampfield said people there were praying for the family at what he said was a hugely distressing time.

Speaking at St Mark's Church, the Reverend Peter Gilks said: "Certainly the people at our church services for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were all feeling very similar feelings.

"At a time when you're very aware of family and valuing their presence, you just think 'if that had been my family how would I be?'"

Map showing Joanna Yeates' last known movements

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