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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Missing Leanne's body found
Leanne Tiernan
Leanne Tiernan went missing in November
Police have confirmed that a body found in woodland is that of Leanne Tiernan, who disappeared nine months ago.

The badly-decomposed body was discovered in isolated woods near Lindley Reservoir, five miles north of Otley.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, from West Yorkshire Police, said a post mortem examination showed she had been strangled. A murder hunt has now been launched.

16-year-old Leanne vanished following a shopping trip to Leeds last November.

Leanne was a happy normal teenager. She was a lovely girl and she will be sadly missed

Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg

A series of forensic tests and a search of the area have been carried out.

The body, which was covered by plastic bags and wrapped in a quilt cover, had been found by a man walking his dog.

Mr Gregg said he believed Leanne had been killed elsewhere and her body, which was clothed, dumped in the woods.

He said: "Further tests are being carried out to determine the length of time the body has been there.

"It is unclear at this stage but it is not believed to have been there since last November.

"West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire detectives and forensic experts are continuing inquiries at the scene.

"Specialist search teams from the two forces are also working in the area.

"I would like to appeal to anyone who may have been in this area recently and who may have information to come forward and contact police.

"This is a local beauty spot which is regularly used by walkers."

DNA tests

Mr Gregg said Leanne's parents, Sharon and Michael, were devastated when told the body was that of their daughter.

Leanne's sister, Michelle, and, right, her mother, Sharon
Leanne's family appealed for help
He said: "We would like to offer our sympathy to Leanne's family who are deeply distressed.

"They are being comforted by family and friends and have support from specially-trained police officers.

"Leanne was a happy normal teenager. She was a lovely girl and she will be sadly missed by her family and many friends."

Mr Gregg said there was no evidence at this stage that Leanne had been sexually assaulted, although that had not been ruled out.

He said: "Her body was clothed, there was no immediate sign of sexual interference."

Mr Gregg said further DNA tests would be carried out in due course.

Leanne was last seen at 1650 GMT on 26 November last year, when she parted company with her friend Sarah Whitehouse near Houghley Gill in Bramley after a shopping trip to Leeds.

She left Sarah at the bus stop and walked off alone through unlit wasteland - that was the last time she was seen.

Police reconstruction

Police mounted an intensive search after Leanne was reported missing.

Officers conducted house-to-house inquiries at 955 addresses and carried out more than 1,000 searches as part of their investigations.

An underwater search was carried out of 32 drain shafts at Houghley Gill, near Bramley, Leeds, and teams of volunteers helped police comb land in the Bramley area.

Leanne's sister Michelle also took part in a police reconstruction of her final movements to help bring in fresh information.

This was followed by an appeal from her mother Sahron Hawkhead who said she hoped her daughter would return in time for Christmas.

A businessman also put up a 10,000 reward for information after he heard about the case.

The BBC's Richard Wells
"Leanne Tiernan hadn't been seen since last November"
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