LAUREN, 10, MURDERED 200 YARDS FROM HOME; Grandfather Finds Her Body
Byline: By PHILIP CARDY
A GIRL of 10 was found murdered yesterday in woodland just 200 yards from her home.
Lauren Pilkington-Smith's body was discovered by her grandfather, Barry Smith, who had gone to search for her after she had failed to return home. She had vanished after spending the evening playing football with friends.
Her parents Alison Pilkington and Glen Smith had become concerned and reported her missing at 10.15pm.
Police joined around 20 family and friends in a desperate late-night search on Thursday for the missing schoolgirl.
Her body was found at 2.30am in thick undergrowth in a wooded area close to the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in Leigh, Greater Manchester.
Yesterday heartbroken Alison, 35, and Glen, 37, said the family had been left devastated by what had happened.
In a statement they said: "Lauren was a beautiful, lively little girl. Our world has collapsed in the last 24 hours and we can't even begin to think about what we will do without her.
"She was a tomboy who loved playing out and everyone around here adored her. We don't know how we can come to terms with this." Lauren, who her family described as "football mad", had two sisters, Rebecca, 15, and Ciara, aged two, and also a brother, Sam, aged four.
She loved Manchester United as well as playing golf and riding her BMX bike.
Forensic scientists were yesterday combing the area for clues as to how she died.
A cause of death had yet to be establish but it is believed there were no obvious signs of injury on her body which was fully-clothed.
A post-mortem examination is due to be today.
Det Supt Andy Tattersall, who is leading the murder hunt, said: "Our investigation is at a very early stage and we don't yet know exactly how she died.
"But we have cordoned off the spot where her body was found and officers are currently at the scene working to recover any forensic evidence from the area."
Lauren was last seen at about 7pm on Thursday when she was playing with three or four friends of her own age in Firs Park, less than a mile from her home. …