Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Dead girl 'met man on internet'

Police investigations
The girl's body could have been left for up to 24 hours

A man is being questioned after the body of a teenager he is believed to have met on the internet was discovered in a field in County Durham.

The body of Ashleigh Hall, 17, was found after the arrest of a 32-year-old man for traffic offences on the A177 near Sedgefield on Monday night.

Durham Police said the Darlington girl told family she was staying with a friend on Sunday night.

The arrested man is being questioned on suspicion of murder.

Police said he had given them several different names and had yet to be identified.

The teenager had told her family she would be home by lunchtime on Monday.

No reply

When she failed to return, her mother repeatedly rang her mobile phone, but could not get a reply.

Ashleigh's body was found fully clothed near the Little Chef roundabout off the A689 and A177 and it is believed it could have been there for up to 24 hours.

Det Ch Insp Harker has appealed for help from the public

It was removed from the field by officers on Tuesday afternoon and taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital.

A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out, but currently there is no indication that she was sexually assaulted, said police.

Det Ch Insp Paul Harker urged parents to monitor their children's online habits.

He said: "This is a very, very unusual event. My message in terms of meeting people from the internet is 'please do not do it unless you are absolutely certain it is safe'."

He added: "Speak to them about it, speak to their friends, let them know the dangers of the internet."

Police are still trying to establish the identity of the arrested man.

Mr Harker said: "He has given us a couple of different names and we are trying to establish through fingerprints his identity.

Ford Mondeo car
Police would like to speak to anyone who may have seen the car

"There is a strong suggestion he is from the Merseyside area."

The teenager was not reported missing to police, he said.

Police want to speak to anyone who saw a dark blue Ford Mondeo, registration S148 JNK, between 1900 GMT on Sunday and 1740 GMT on Monday.

The vehicle is currently being examined by forensic experts.

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