Mystery surrounds death of boy, 11, found in woods near school
Rory Blackhall, aged 11, disappeared just a few hundred yards from the gate of Meldrum primary school in Livingston, West Lothian, on Thursday morning as he returned for the first day of the new term.
However, it was not until his grandfather went to collect him at the end of the school day that it was discovered he had not been in classes. The alarm was quickly raised.
Residents joined police and mountain-rescue volunteers to search the area surrounding the school and a body, matching the boy's description, was eventually discovered at lunchtime on Sunday.
Although the hunt for Rory has been called off, a formal identification of the boy has not yet been made because of "suspicious circumstances". The body was left where it was found until the forensic teams could complete a detailed examination.
A police spokesman said the death was being treated as suspicious "in accordance with standard procedure in cases where a body is found in the open air".
Although it was believed that Rory had been upset by family problems, the police said it was too early to comment on whether the death was the result of suicide, murder or an accident.
"It's not been an easy task for the officers and they are obviously taking their time, but it's just too difficult to speculate on," said the spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police.
However, as uncertainty over the cause of death continued, members of the close-knit local community, who have been lining up to lay floral tributes close to the spot where the body was found, admitted to being frightened. Many concerned mothers were choosing to take their children to and from Meldrum primary until they knew what had happened to Rory.
"My son normally walks to school as we live close by, but obviously that's changed at the moment," said Karen Carroll, 37. "I'll take him there and back - that's the safest thing to do, I think."
Shortly before the body was discovered, Rory's mother, Michelle Blackhall, a primary school teacher at a different West Lothian school, described Rory as a "fantastic and affectionate" son. She spoke of his passion for trains and for diving, and his love of dogs.
However, she admitted that he had been unhappy for some time. The 41-year-old mother of two, from the Adambrae area of Livingston, said that Rory had had a hard time lately.
"There have been things happening within the family that have upset Rory.
"There have been a number of things happening during the year and going back to school after the holidays may have tipped the balance for him."
Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
Archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old gold bongs in Russia
Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after British tourists complain of 'awkward' holidays
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
- 1 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 2 Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
- 5 Kate Moss on the naked Calvin Klein shoot and the obsession that ended her relationship