Alice Gross: Murder investigation launched as police find body in River Brent

Detectives said 'significant efforts' had been made to conceal the body

The search for the missing teenager Alice Gross is now a murder inquiry, police confirmed this morning, after a body was found in the River Brent overnight.

Police said the body is yet to be formally identified, but the 14-year-old's family have been informed. A post-mortem examination is due to be held later on Wednesday.

Detectives said "significant efforts" had been made to conceal the body, but police have not specified where in the river the body was found.  No further details were being released at present.

Describing the discovery as a "significant development" and "devastating news" for Alice's family and friends, Commander Graham McNulty from Scotland Yard appealed to the public to help police to find whoever is responsible.

The River Brent runs a short distance from Hanwell, West London, and the towpath next to the Grand Union canal.

Alice was last seen on 28 August on CCTV walking along the towpath as it passes under Trumpers Way at 4.26pm, heading towards her home in Hanwell.

Speaking outside of Scotland Yard, Commander McNulty said a search had been carried out in the river on Tuesday night as part of the investigation into Alice’s disappearance.

“Our work at this scene is crucial to ensure we capture all the available evidence allowing us to identify who is responsible for this dreadful crime,” he said.

“This may take some time and I ask people to remain patient with us.

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“I would like to reiterate my request that Alice’s family and friends are given the time to come to terms with this news. My thoughts, and those of all of us in the Metropolitan Police, are with them at this difficult time,” he added.

Police are still seeking to question convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns over Alice's disappearance. The Latvian builder was reported missing by his family six days after Alice was last seen. He has not been seen since 3 September.

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Armis Zalkalns, 41, was reported missing on 5 September

Zalkalns, 41, who was filmed cycling along the Grand Union Canal 15 minutes after Alice had walked along it on 28 August, remains the prime suspect in the case.

Zalkalns served seven years in jail for the murder of his wife before moving to the UK in 2007, and was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of indecent assault in the Ealing area, though no further action was taken at the time.

Authorities in the UK have come under fire for apparently holding no record of Zalkalns’ conviction and for the delay in identifying him as a suspect.

Alice’s disappearance triggered one of the biggest searches since the 7/7 terror attacks of 2005 involving officers from units including the Metropolitan Police’s underwater search team help from the RAF, as well as police forces from around the country.

A month after she was found missing, police staged a reconstruction of Alice’s last known movements, and her family issued a plea for the teenager to come home, stating: “We cannot believe that Alice is not home with us and every morning brings new agony.”