The fully-clothed body of Louise Sellers was discovered yesterday morning by a retired policeman walking his dog in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
"The body was in a field and had not been concealed," said Inspector Gary Jewitt.
Louise's body, which has not been formally identified, was found near Green's Lane, a narrow by-way popular with courting couples. It was lying in a recently harvested wheat field behind a hospital.
Louise, who attended Shevington High School, near Wigan, was wearing a leather jacket, vest and jeans when her body was found. She lived five miles away in Appley Bridge, Lancashire.
Detective Superintendent Peter Mockett, leading the inquiry, said: "This was the horrific murder of a 15-year-old girl. We do not have a motive. We don't know how she finished up in this locality. These are all matters that we will have to consider. I am appealing for information from any member of the public, particularly anyone who saw anything unusual overnight."
A police search involving a helicopter was launched early yesterday after Louise failed to return home. She went to meet a girlfriend at 6pm on Sunday and was last seen three hours later at a bus stop in Appley Bridge, when her friend went off with a boy. Detectives were trying to establish whether she caught a bus, set off walking or accepted a lift.
A Home Office pathologist was expected to carry out a post-mortem examination.
A group of Louise's classmates called at her home yesterday to offer messages of sympathy to her parents. They described Louise as a bubbly, fun-loving girl who had lots of friends. One teenager said: "It's hard to believe that we won't see Louise again. She was always laughing and joking. Everyone liked her."
She added: "She had friends all over the place and it would not have been unusual for her to go over to Billinge. She was very keen on horses and spent a lot of time at the stables.
"We just felt we had to call on Louise's family to say how sad we are."Reuse content