POLICE have launched a murder investigation after the body of missing teenager Louise Smith was discovered in woodland.

The 16-year-old’s body was found in the Havant Thicket area of Staunton Country Park on Thursday.

Louise, from the Leigh Park area, was reported missing on Friday 8 May (VE Day) at around 6.30pm.

Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Mackechnie said: “This is now a murder investigation and our focus is to identify who is responsible. To do this it is crucial that we capture as much information as possible regarding the moments leading up to her death.

“We know that news of her murder will leave the community shocked and upset, but we are turning to you for your help, because information you have could be key in this investigation.”

CCTV footage shows Louise entering Tesco Metro on Greywell Road shortly before 7.30pm on Thursday, May 7.

It was reported to police that she was seen at around midday on VE Day in Somborne Drive.

Police said they are keen to trace Louise’s movements from the Somborne Drive and Greywell Road area, up to the site where she was discovered in Havant Thicket.

Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Mackechnie said: “Two weeks have passed since Louise was first reported missing. I am asking residents in Leigh Park to cast their minds back to Louise’s disappearance a fortnight ago and provide any information to us that will help trace her movements from where she was last seen to the site at which her body was discovered.

“We know she entered Tesco Metro on Greywell Road shortly before 7.30pm on Thursday 7th May, but we can’t be certain where she went from here.

“She also was reportedly seen at midday the following day – VE Day – in Somborne Drive. Please focus your mind on this day.

“This was a historic day for the country, and many of you may have been celebrating out on your front gardens. Did you see her, or someone matching her description? Was she alone, or with someone?

“Perhaps you were out walking or running in Havant Thicket on this day, as part of your daily exercise. Did you see anything that could help our investigation, or anyone acting suspiciously?

“We are also keen to trace her movements from 7.30pm on 7th May onwards. At that time she was described as wearing black jeans, a black and white striped T-shirt, black trainers and a black coat with a fur hood, as seen in the CCTV image.

“Our appeals for any video footage from Leigh Park residents – whether this be CCTV, dash cam, or doorbell camera footage – from Thursday 7th May and Friday 8th May still stand, as we are keen to capture as much video material as possible.

“If you live in Leigh Park and have footage from these two days, please do not delete it and save it if this is possible to do. Alternatively, contact us and we can arrange for an officer to collect it.

“We have released a map which marks the location where Louise was found, and also marks Somborne Drive which is where she lived and at this time is the area where she was last seen. Please take a look at this map – if you live in the surrounding areas depicted on this map and have video footage, or information, please get in touch.

“In addition, we’re keen to hear from any dog walkers who use Havant Thicket and Staunton Country Park, drone operators, and cyclists with helmet cameras or Go Pros that may have been using the area on these days, but particularly the afternoon of VE day.

“We will endeavour to provide updates as this investigation progresses, but in the meantime we ask the community to please not speculate on the circumstances, and instead provide all information to the police in the first instance.”

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting 44200163113, or you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.