Police are treating the death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute as murder.
The girl’s body was been found in island woodland just hours after she went missing from Rothesay on Monday morning.
In a statement, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “The body recovered in woodland in Ardberg Road can be confirmed as that of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail who was reported missing around 6:25am on Monday, 2 July.
“The investigtation into her death is now being treated as murder.
“Alesha’s family is utterly devastated and we are continuing to provide them with the support they require at this incredibly distressing time.
“Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend again.”
“She was a very considerate child who loved being part of a group and she was popular with all the other children, and was a smiley and happy young girl.Head teacher Wendy Davie, Chapelside Primary School
Alesha’s head teacher said the girl would be “greatly missed” by everyone at her school.
Alesha’s body was found in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Ardbeg Road by a member of the public at about 9am on Monday.
Formal identification took place last night.
Alesha was a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.
Head teacher Wendy Davie said: “Alesha started with us at Chapelside Primary in August 2016 and had just finished primary two.
“She loved being at school and enjoyed all aspects of literacy, in particular writing. She was such a perfectionist in her handwriting and was very proud of her work.
“Alesha was very friendly and she welcomed everyone first thing in the morning at breakfast club.
“She was a very considerate child who loved being part of a group and she was popular with all the other children, and was a smiley and happy young girl.
“She was part of the family of Chapelside Primary and she will be greatly missed by everyone at the school.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and Chapelside Primary community at this very sad time.”
Police are treating the death as unexplained and have launched a major investigation.
The death was said to have had an impact on all those living in the “tight-knit community”.
Councillor Len Scoullar said: “Everyone is very shocked, very sympathetic and concerned.
“We will all be offering our very sincere condolences to the family.
“We are a very small island community, people are genuinely grieving for the family.”
Extra officers including forensics specialists have been sent to the island to help with the investigation.
High Road in Ardbeg, near Rothesay, was shut by a police cordon and a floral tribute had been laid near police accident signs.
A separate cordon was set up outside houses on Ardbeg Road and police tape set up at the seafront on the opposite side of the street.
Messages on floral tributes laid outside the homes read “sleep tight little angel” and “forever in our thoughts”.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, from Police Scotland’s major investigation teams, said on Monday: “This death of a six-year-old child has shocked the tight-knit community of Rothesay and it is imperative that we find out what has happened.
“I understand that there are real concerns in the community, however please be assured that a team of detectives are working on this investigation to ascertain the circumstances leading up to the death of this young child.
“Specially-trained officers are supporting the family during this incredibly difficult time.”
Anyone with information is asked to call officers at the major investigations teams via 101, quoting incident no 0695 of 2 July 2018.