London

Alice Gross murder: Police identify body in river

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Media captionAlice's parents say they are struggling to come to terms with why anyone would want to hurt her, as the BBC's Tom Symonds reports

A body found in a west London river is that of missing Alice Gross, the Metropolitan Police have confirmed.

The 14-year-old's body was found on Tuesday night in the River Brent. She was last seen on 28 August after she left her home in Hanwell, west London.

Alice's parents say they have been "left completely devastated" and thanked the local community for its help in the search.

A post-mortem examination began earlier at Uxbridge Mortuary.

'Sweet and beautiful'

Police said: "Due to the complex nature of this investigation the post-mortem is still ongoing and will resume tomorrow."

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Image caption Police officers from several forces took part in the search
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Image caption Detectives said significant efforts had been made to conceal the body
Image copyright PA
Image caption Ealing Council said yellow ribbons placed around the borough will be kept in place as a sign of respect

Alice's parents Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross said: "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."

Her school said in a statement: "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."

'A dreaded day'

Convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, 41, a labourer from Latvia, remains the prime suspect in the case.

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Image caption Alice's parents said she was 'a quirky live spark of a girl, beautiful inside and out'

He served seven years in prison in his native country for bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite to death.

He was filmed cycling along the Grand Union Canal 15 minutes after Alice had walked along it on 28 August, and has been missing from his Ealing home since 3 September.

When police found the body on Tuesday they said significant efforts had been made to conceal it.

Alice's disappearance prompted an outpouring of support in her local community, where yellow ribbons and bows still adorn the streets.

Posters 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.

He said: "Today is the day that everyone in our community has dreaded and the yellow ribbons flying across our borough show how deeply our community cares and has been affected.

"It is essential that anyone with information that can help the police's investigation comes forward."

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