Toddler's body is found by police

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POLICE DISCOVERED the body of a young girl in Liverpool in the early hours of this morning. The discovery came after a day-long search for a two-year-old girl whose mother was found murdered in her home in Liverpool.

It is believed that the woman, 22-year-old Sharon Lester, had been dead for more than two days when her mother found her body. She had been beaten and repeatedly stabbed.

Officers from the force had earlier issued an urgent appeal for information about the whereabouts of Ms Lester's daughter, Jade. It is thought that she was last seen nine days ago, a week before Ms Lester's body was found at her home in the Kensington area of the city.

Yesterday, Merseyside police officers were interviewing Ms Lester's boyfriend, John Park, who comes from the Tuebrook area of Liverpool. He was still being questioned last night but police said he had been unable to shed any light on her whereabouts.

Police are particularly keen to speak to two men seen with a van at the house on Saturday, about two hours before Ms Lester's body was found. A police spokesman said: "They may be unconnected, but we are looking for more sightings of the van and for the man or men to come forward and tell us what they were doing there."

Ms Lester's body was found in a downstairs room at the back of the house, police said. Officers were unable to confirm whether anything had been stolen. A police spokeswoman told The Independent: "We are trying to establish if any of the little girl's clothes are missing, but obviously it is a very difficult time for the family."

Residents of the neat terraced street were still coming to terms with the tragedy yesterday. A neighbour, June Joel, 41, heard the scream of the mother as she found her grown-up daughter's body. "I was in my front room about half one or two o'clock when this woman came out of the house screaming and screaming.

"She went next door and then when the police car arrived she came out on to the pavement and seemed to sort of collapse, her legs just gave way. I didn't really know her or the little one as she only moved in about seven months ago with a man, who I think moved out later," she said.

House-to-house inquiries were being extended last night as forensic scientists searched for clues at the murder scene. Fifty officers were drafted in to work on the case. Relatives, friends and health workers who have come into contact with Jade are being traced, the spokeswoman said.