The body, which police hope to identify today, was discovered in a thick copse at Warmley, near Bristol, a few hundred yards from the home of 22- year-old Jennifer King.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said the missing girl's parents, Ray and Margaret, had been told of the discovery by officers who had been with them since she vanished. No formal identification had been carried out and a Home Office pathologist and forensic science officers were at the scene.
Ms King had been on a girls' night out at Chasers nightclub in the Bristol suburb of Kingswood, about a mile from her home. She is believed to have left the nightclub at 2.10am, apparently to take a taxi ride home.
Her brother Andrew, 25, who was at the nightclub with other friends, gave her pounds 5 for the fare, but it is not known if she took a taxi. Her boyfriend of 10 months, Steve Daly, raised the alarm when he realised she had not made it home.
Earlier yesterday, Ms King's father made a public appeal for the safe return of his daughter. He told a news conference: "We are ordinary parents. We love our children and we want Jen back.
"We are ordinary people with ordinary feelings. You cannot believe the fear and trepidation we're going through at the moment and I would not wish you to endure it."
Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Anderson, who is leading the inquiry, said police were not, at present, linking Ms King's disappearance with that of a missing Bath University graduate, Melanie Hall, aged 25, from Bradford-on-Avon.
Ms Hall disappeared without trace on 9 June two years ago after being last seen at a nightclub in nearby Bath.Reuse content