Tributes have been paid to 13-year-old Amber Peat after a body was found a short distance from her home, three days after she went missing.
Amber, who was last seen on Saturday evening, has been described as a “little angel” by friends and was happy at school, according to her teachers.
The teenager had not been seen since leaving her home in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, at around 5:30pm on Saturday after a row with her parents.
A body was found less than a mile away on Tuesday night after a huge search operation. Although police have not formally identified the body, officers said Amber’s family have been informed and scores of messages paying tribute to the teenager have been left with flowers near the scene.
People living near the scene said they were shocked the body had been discovered in a spot close to so many homes and surprised that it was not found earlier after scores of local people and up to 400 police personnel were involved in the search for her.
Speaking outside Amber’s school, Queen Elizabeth’s Academy in Mansfield, principal Mike Smith said: “Our school community is deeply shocked and saddened to hear a body has been found in the search for one of our Year 8 students, Amber Peat.
“We have been working with the police over the past two days and are waiting to hear from them whether it is Amber who has been found.
“Amber has been a student at the school since September. Academically bright, she has been in the academy choir and has loved singing and dancing.
“Amber has been happy at the academy.
“Students who have been particularly affected are being supported by staff and trained counsellors.
“This is a close-knit community academy and everybody is supporting each other at this difficult time.”
Yesterday morning, police were guarding a stretch of grass next to a large hedge and path in Mansfield.
Officers could be seen searching the garden of a large house on the other side of the 6ft (1.8m) deep hedge.
But the cordon was then lifted and all the police left the area, which is in the middle of a suburban housing estate of mainly semi-detached homes.
There were no clues left in the area as to what had happened to the teenager.
Dozens of people from the local community helped search for Amber over the weekend and yesterday as her parents issued an emotional plea for her to return.
Her mother and stepfather broke down in tears as they spoke at a police press conference, saying her disappearance was out of character.
Kelly and Danny Peat said Amber walked out after refusing to clean a cool box used to store food during a holiday to Cornwall, after the family had returned on Friday.
Ms Peat said Amber was not in contact with her natural father, who lives in Scotland. Dozens of floral tributes, along with teddies and other mementos, have been laid around a large tree near to where the body was found.
One message from school classmates said: “I hope your parents find the strength to find peace.”
It added: “Hope the angels make you smile.”
Another said: “Our thoughts are with your family at this sad time. Sleep well little angel.”
One of the messages pinned to a photograph of Amber said: “You will never be forgotten – an angel taken from us too soon.”