Dead girl's body discovered by her father

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The Independent Online
A 14-year-old girl found brutally murdered in a field after taking a neighbour's dog for a walk was discovered by her father, police said yesterday.

The body of music-loving Kate Bushell was found by her father, Jeremy, in the corner of a field just yards from her home in Exeter. He had gone to search for her after she failed to return home on Saturday night.

Kate had been attacked with a sharp instrument - possibly a knife - which had yet to be recovered, said Detective Superintendent Mike Stephens at a news conference in Exeter. He had not yet ruled the victim having been sexually assaulted.

Kate, a pupil at Exeter's St Thomas High School, was found dead around 300 yards from her family's detached house in Burrator Drive, on the edge of a large private estate on the outskirts of the city. Police said Kate went out with the Jack Russell terrier called Gemma, belonging to neighbours who had gone away. At around 6.45pm on Saturday, she was reported missing by her father and mother Susan, who started their own search of the area. They toured the extensive estate in their car and called in police when they failed to find her, said Det Supt Stephens.

She was found at around 7.35pm in a field off Exwick Lane near a stile by her father, who called for police assistance. The lane is around 200 yards from the family home and has steep fields on either side. Det Supt Stephens said Kate, who was wearing a turquoise kagoul and dark trousers, had been brutally murdered and a sexual attack had not been ruled out. A post mortem examination was continuing yesterday.

Det Supt Stephens appealed for anyone in the area who may have information about Kate to come forward and he also wanted to hear from people who walk their dogs or use that area. He said they also wanted information about anyone seen acting suspiciously since the murder.

"This is the murder of a young, innocent girl in a residential area. We ask for as much public assistance as possible," he said.