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The BBC's Bob Sinkinson
"More than 50 officers and a police helicopter have been deployed"
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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Police quiz murdered girl's friends
Friends with flowers in memory of Heather Tell
Friends comfort each other at the scene of the murder
Police investigating the murder of teenager Heather Tell have been speaking to her friends and acquaintances to build up a detailed profile of the youngster's life.

The body of the 17-year-old was found in bushes off a footpath leading to the A5 in Kettlebrook Linear Park, Tamworth, Staffordshire just after 1100 BST on Saturday.

Heather Tell
Heather Tell failed to keep a meeting with a friend
A spokeswoman for Staffordshire police said there were more than 50 officers working on the case.

"We're continuing our extensive house-to-house inquiries and a detailed forensic examination of the scene where Heather's body was found," she said.

A postmortem examination revealed the cause of death as asphyxia but police were not prepared to say exactly how Heather died.

It was also too early to say whether she had been the victim of a sexual assault, they added.

Staffordshire Police said a passer-by discovered the teenager's body, which was concealed but not buried or covered.

Her whole life was dancing

Heather's family
The teenager, who friends say had dreamed of being a dancer, was a student at Sutton College, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

In a statement her mother Karen, father Peter and elder sister Holly said her nature was similar to that of the late Princess Diana.

"She was very caring and considerate. She was always a happy and smiling girl who without reservation put others before herself.

"Her whole life was dancing. She absolutely lived for it.

"It was all she wanted to do since she was a little girl," the statement read.

Father's search

The alarm was raised on Friday night when Heather failed to meet a girlfriend outside a local dance centre between 2030 BST and 2045 BST on Friday.

When she did not arrive, her friend contacted the teenager's father.

Police search
Police have been combing the area for evidence
He searched the area but found nothing and contacted police, who later combed the area. Her body was not discovered until the following morning by a passer-by.

Lifelong friend Darren Byrne said: "We grew up together from when we were five or six years old, so you can imagine I'm devastated.

"She was a really kind girl, she would never hurt a soul."

Number of muggings

Neighbours on the housing estate where the Tell family live said there had been a number of muggings in lanes locally in recent months.

One 28-year-old mother, who would not be named, said: "My childminder was mugged a few weeks ago and an old woman was also attacked."

Floral tributes
Flowers were laid near to the spot where the 17-year-old's body was found
Detective Superintendent John Moss said: "Over the last few nights, a lot of young people have congregated in Kettlebrook Linear Park holding impromptu celebrations following the GCSE results.

"We are appealing to these people who may have seen Heather over the last few days."

The petite youngster, who had long straight blonde hair, was wearing black trousers, a pink sleeveless T-shirt, blue denim jacket and blue trainers on the night she disappeared.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Hall, is expected to give more details about the investigation at a news conference on Tuesday.

Anyone with any information should call the Stafford Police incident room on 01785 234610.

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