Family of murdered Wishaw girl Zoe Nelson 'heartbroken'

Image caption, Zoe would have celebrated her 18th birthday in a couple of months

The family of a teenager whose badly burned body was found in a field in North Lanarkshire have said they are "absolutely heartbroken" by her death.

The remains of Zoe Nelson, 17, were discovered near Branchalfield Drive in Wishaw on Sunday afternoon.

She was last seen by her mother leaving her home in nearby Newmains on Saturday evening.

Detectives have launched a murder inquiry and are trying to piece together her last movements.

In a statement issued through the police, the teenager's mother Mariann said: "Zoe was a popular girl and a typical 17-year-old who had plenty of friends and was well known in the area.

"She would have been celebrating her 18th birthday in a couple of months and we miss her terribly.

"Me, her stepdad, Daniel, and two sisters, Laura Ann and Ashley, are shattered by what has happened."

The family has urged anyone with information to come forward and assist the police.

Zoe, a former Motherwell College student, left home at about 1700 BST on Saturday heading to meet friends.

Her body was found in a spot known as "Monkey Hill", which links the areas of Cambusnethan, Newmains and Coltness and is used as a short cut, a cycle track and for walking dogs.

Police said local people had reported seeing a fire in that area at about 2320 BST on Saturday.

A detailed forensic examination of the scene is continuing and at least 50 officers are working on the case.

Det Supt Derek Robertson, from Strathclyde Police's major investigation team, described Zoe's death as "a young life cut short" and said his officers would not rest until her killer was caught.

He said: "It is vital that anyone who saw Zoe between 5pm and 11.20pm on Saturday night come forward and assist us.

"It was the hottest day of the year and we know that the area would have been busy with people taking shortcuts, sunbathing and walking their dogs.

"There are a lot of dirt trails in the area, one crossing by the spot where Zoe's body was found."

He added: "We are anxious to hear from anyone who was passing through the area or looking at it from one of the houses that back on to it if they saw anything suspicious."

Zoe was described as 5ft 6in tall, of heavy build, with collar-length brown hair. She was last seen wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, a white long sleeved t-shirt and black Nike trainers.

Online tributes

Detectives have been checking CCTV and phone and computer records, carrying out door-to-door enquiries and speaking to Zoe's friends and family as they try to piece together her last movements.

Police said the 17-year-old had a local boyfriend who has been interviewed as a witness and given a statement.

Friends have been leaving online tributes and messages on Zoe's page on the social networking site, Bebo.

One read: "R.I.P angel what a waste of such a gorgeous young life."

Image caption, Forensic officers have been working at the scene where the body was found

Neighbours in Newmains have spoken of a "lovely" and "popular" girl.

One woman who knew the 17-year-old told BBC Scotland: "We used to see her a lot, walking about with her pals.

"She was a quiet girl."

Hugh Logan, principal of Motherwell College, where Zoe studied a vehicle body repair course, said: "Everyone at Motherwell College is shocked to hear this dreadful news.

"Zoe was a very popular student. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."

Speaking at a police press conference Chf Insp Brian Connel said local officers would be on hand to help the close-knit communities of Newmains and Cambusnethan deal with what has happened.

He said: "This was a tragic event and it has had a huge impact.

"In the days and weeks ahead it is vitally important that we are there to reassure local people, deal with their concerns, and allow them to adjust back to some form of normality."

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