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SICK KILLING OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR; Happy, loving Leanne, 16, found strangled in woods after 9 months.

Byline: IAN KEY

THE monster who murdered girl next door Leanne Tiernan was being hunted by police last night.

Police confirmed a body found in woodland was that of Leanne, 16.

She had been strangled and wrapped in plastic bags and a quilt cover.

Detective Superintendent Chris Gregg, leading the murder hunt, said: "Leanne was a happy normal teenager, devoted to her mother and sister.

"She was a lovely girl and will be sadly missed by her family and many friends.

"We are determined to catch whoever was responsible for her death."

Leanne had no history of running away and had no major problems at home or school.

Mum Sharon said yesterday: "Police called to tell me they had found a body and I have felt absolutely terrible ever since.

"All I am doing is drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes."

Sister Michelle, 19, added: "All the family are here helping mum, who is not feeling too good."

Leanne vanished on November 26 last year after kissing her mum goodbye and going Christmas shopping with her best friend in Leeds.

She got the bus back to the city's Bramley district and left pal Sarah Whitehouse, promising to call her later.

But she never completed the 20-minute walk home through unlit waste ground in gathering darkness.

Sharon tried to ring her on her mobile phone that evening but it was switched off. She alerted police that night.

Leanne's body was found 50 yards from a layby by a man walking his dog on Monday evening. She had not been buried.

Police identified her from fingerprints. She was clothed and there was no immediate evidence of sexual assault.

It's believed she was murdered elsewhere then dumped near a footpath at remote Lindley Woods between Otley and Harrogate.

Her disappearance meant Christmas was put on hold for her family. A Westlife CD Michelle had bought her remained unopened.

Police launched a massive search, involving dozens of officers, members of the public and a helicopter.

Michelle bravely took part in a reconstruction of Leanne's last-known movements.

At one stage, there were 180 officers, including 30 detectives, on the case.

More than 800 houses and 1500 outbuildings were searched. Police frogmen were brought in to trawl the Leeds-Liverpool canal and plans were under way to begin looking in sewers.

There were unconfirmed reports that Leanne, a pupil at West Leeds High School, had been seen as far away as Blackpool and Doncaster. But in almost nine months, there were no positive sightings.

Leanne's boyfriend, care assistant Wayne Keeley, 19, pleaded with her to get in touch.

He said: "I can't believe this is happening. It's a nightmare. It's totally out of character."

Sharon, who is divorced from Leanne's father Michael, spoke of her fears that her daughter had been abducted.

Leanne was five feet four inches tall and slim, with a ring in her left eyebrow. She was wearing a blue jacket, a black and white polo-neck, black trousers and black boots.

She was last seen shortly before 5pm, carrying a small Argos Elizabeth Duke bag containing a gold wishbone ring and titanium button bar.

The walk from the bus stop to her home is a distance of about three quarters of a mile.

Mr Gregg said the hunt would focus on where Leanne had been between her disappearance and the discovery of her remains.

He added: "It has been a harrowing time for her family.

"Clearly, they had no idea what had happened to their daughter and they had been trying to understand what had happened to her."
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 23, 2001
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