FURTHER tests will be required to determine how Alice Gross died, after a post-mortem examination proved inconclusive.
The body of the 14-year-old schoolgirl, who went missing on August 28, was recovered from the River Brent in west London on Tuesday.
The post-mortem began at Uxbridge Mortuary yesterday but lasted until this evening due to the “complex nature” of the investigation, Scotland Yard said.
In a statement tonight, police said: “The post-mortem examination into the murder of 14-year-old Alice Gross has now concluded.
“No cause of death has been given at this time and further tests are required.”
Following the discovery, police said their investigation into her disappearance was now a murder inquiry.
Their prime suspect is convicted killer Arnis Zalkalns, who was spotted following Alice along a canal towpath when she was last seen. The 41-year-old Latvian builder has been missing since September 3.
Alice’s parents, Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross, said in a statement: “We have been left completely devastated by the recent developments and it is difficult to comprehend that our sweet and beautiful daughter was the victim of a terrible crime.
“Why anyone would want to hurt her is something that we are struggling to come to terms with.
“Alice was a loving and much-loved daughter and sister, a quirky live spark of a girl, beautiful inside and out.
“She was a funny companion, a loyal friend, both passionate and compassionate, and so talented, with a bright future ahead of her. She brought so much joy to our family and those who knew her.
“We still don’t know who is responsible for this crime and we ask that people continue to help the police by giving them information that could help bring the perpetrator to justice.”
The couple gave their thanks to those who have supported the efforts to find Alice and warned against using her death for political purposes, adding that it was “a time for grieving and not a time for anger or recriminations”.
The Metropolitan Police have come under fire for delays in identifying Zalkalns as a suspect, and so far have not been able to apply for a European Arrest Warrant due to lack of evidence.
Metropolitan Police Commander Graham McNulty said “significant efforts” were made to hide Alice’s body, which was found near her family home in Hanwell, west London.
But he gave no further explanation as to why it has taken more than a month for any significant progress to be made in the hunt for the teenager, despite the force staging the biggest search since the aftermath of the July 7 bombings.
Alice was last seen on CCTV walking along the towpath beside the Grand Union Canal near her home on the afternoon of August 28.
Nearly three weeks later investigators realised that Zalkalns, who was reported missing by his family on September 5, had been cycling behind her.
He served seven years in prison in his native country for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite to death.
The general labourer, who worked at a building site in Isleworth, west London, is believed to have come to the UK in 2007, but authorities here are thought to have had no record of his murder conviction.
Scotland Yard refused to comment on reports that detectives yesterday sealed off a shed in Isleworth.
Alice’s disappearance prompted an outpouring of support in her local community, where yellow ribbons and bows still adorn the streets.
Posters with her picture are taped to walls, lampposts and car windscreens, while sunflower-colour strands of material are tied to doorknobs - many inscribed with a simple message: “Find Alice.”
Leader of Ealing Council Julian Bell said the yellow ribbons will be kept in place as a sign of respect.
Brentside High School, where Alice was a pupil, said: “Our thoughts and sympathy are with Alice’s family at this time.
“Alice was an outstanding and talented student who will be sorely missed from our school community.
“This is a very sad day for our school and we are devastated by this tragic loss.
“We are doing everything we can to support each other and will continue to do so in the days and weeks ahead.”