Police investigating the discovery of a woman's remains found near to a railway line have launched a murder inquiry.
A dog walker found human bones on an embankment in Fazakerley, Liverpool, on May 5.
The body was that of Paula Hounslea who was reported missing from her home in West Derby, Liverpool, on August 22 2009.
Today Merseyside Police launched a murder investigation and appealed to the public for information.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil McEwan said: "This has clearly been devastating for Paula's family, who have been searching for her since August 2009, and hoping every day that she would come home. Our thoughts go out to them at this very difficult time.
"We are trying to piece together Paula's last movements and I would like to urge people to cast their minds back to August 22, 2009 and contact us if they believe they may have seen anyone matching Paula's description either on the day she disappeared or since."
Officers were called to the disused loopline railway, near to its junction with Blackthorn Road, Fazakerley, following a call from a member of the public who had been walking his dog in the area.
The dog discovered the bones in what appears to have been an old fire pit on the embankment.
Ms Hounslea was 37 when she was reported missing.
She was last seen by her family after she was dropped off at their home following a family meal at a Chinese restaurant.
She was white, around 5ft 8ins tall, of medium build and had blonde or light brown shoulder-length hair.
When last seen she was wearing a grey jumper, with possibly a pink cardigan over the top, dark jeans and a gold Madonna pendant necklace.
It is thought that she had three small bags of clothes with her.
Mr McEwan added: "We are also keen to hear from anyone who has seen suspicious activity in the area of the loopline that Paula was found from September 2011 onwards.
"The information, no matter how small, could be of vital help to this investigation and bring some peace to Paula's family."
Anyone with any information is asked to call the incident room on 0151 777 8660, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.