The family of a 16-year-old girl who was found dead on a path near her home have been left “devastated and shocked” as police question a man on suspicion of her murder.
The body of Leonne Weeks was discovered in a lane off Lordens Hill in Dinnington at 10.55am on Monday morning. Detectives arrested an 18-year-old Dinnington man on suspicion of murder on Monday night and he was being questioned today.
The teenage girl's auntie Jean Oldfield, aged 47, was in tears when she brought flowers to the scene today and said Leonne's mum Paula and the rest of the family are "devastated and shocked."
She added: "Leonne was a lovely girl who wouldn't hurt a fly. We can't understand what has happened, and can't understand why anyone would want to hurt her."
Friends and family posted desperate Facebook appeals for Leonne's whereabouts on Monday after she failed to return home.
Jean said: "I saw the Facebook comments. We were all worried. I can't believe it."
At a news conference on Monday night, temporary superintendent Sarah Poolman said police were treating the death as suspicious because of "concerns around the state of the body and injuries."
She said the force received a report of a missing person 20 minutes before the body was found.
Detective chief inspector Martin Tate briefed the media at the scene today and said the investigation was in its 'early stages' and the formal identification process was not yet complete.
He added: "This is clearly a murder inquiry. We have found the body of a female and as you can see we are working very very hard to gather as much evidence as we can.
"Unfortunately, and it's difficult for the family, these things do take a lot of time and it really really important that we do it methodically in a slow manner and we've got specialists people who are working to do that.
"We have got an 18-year-old from the local area under arrest and obviously we'll be progressing that as a line of enquiry.
"It is very early stages of the investigation, we are working with a local family who have a girl who has been missing. But it's absolutely important that we work through this methodically and release the identity of the victim when we're absolutely 100 per cent sure and that is going to take us a little bit of time."
Detective chief inspector Steve Whittaker said: “We have increased patrols in Dinnington at this time to provide reassurance to members of the community and I’d urge anyone who thinks they have any information, to please speak to an officer."
Relatives said Leonne is a former pupil at Dinnington High School and it is believed she was studying a hair and beauty course at the Dinnington Campus of Rotherham College of Arts and Technology. Staff at Dinnington High School did not want to comment.
Relatives also said the teenager lived with her mum Paula and siblings Levi and Millie in Doe Quarry Terrace, Dinnington. They added dad Darren lives in Thurcroft.
Mum Paula was understood to be too upset to speak to the media. A police team from the crime scene investigation unit was at a property in Doe Quarry Terrace on Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police on 101 quoting incident number 256 of 16 January 2017.