Tributes have been paid to 13-year-old Amber Peat after a body was found a short distance from her home, two days after she went missing
Amber, who was last seen on Saturday evening, has been described as a “little angel” by friends and was happy at school, according to her teachers.
The teenager had not been seen since leaving her home in Bosworth Street, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, at around 5.30pm on Saturday after a row with her parents.
A body was found less than a mile away last night after a huge search operation.
Although police have not formally identified the body, officers said Amber’s family have been informed and scores of messages of tribute to the teenager have been left with flowers near the scene.
People living near the scene said they were shocked the body has been discovered in a spot close to so many homes and surprised that it was not found earlier after scores of local people and up to 400 police staff were involved in the search for her.
Speaking outside Amber’s school, Queen Elizabeth’s Academy in Mansfield, principal Mike Smith said: “Our school community is deeply shocked and saddened to hear a body has been found in the search for one of our Year 8 students, Amber Peat.
“We have been working with the police over the past two days and are waiting to hear from them whether it is Amber who has been found.
“Amber has been a student at the school since September. Academically bright, she has been in the academy choir and has loved singing and dancing.
“Amber has been happy at the academy.
“Students who have been particularly affected are being supported by staff and trained counsellors.
“This is a close-knit, community academy and everybody is supporting each other at this difficult time.”
This morning, police were guarding a stretch of grass next to a large hedge and path in Westfield Lane, Mansfield. Officers could be seen searching the garden of a large house on the other side of the 6ft (1.8m) deep hedge.
But the cordon was lifted this afternoon and all the police left the area, which is in the middle of a suburban housing estate of mainly semi-detached homes.
There were no clues left in the area as to what had happened to the teenager.
Scores of people from the local community helped search for Amber over the weekend and yesterday as her parents issued an emotional plea for her to return.
Her mother and stepfather broke down in tears as they spoke at a police press conference, saying her disappearance was out of character.
Kelly and Danny Peat said Amber walked out after refusing to clean a cool box used to store food during a holiday to Cornwall after the family had returned on Friday.
Mr Peat said: “We had just all had a brilliant holiday. It’s just not right. She had a fantastic time, never stopped laughing with all of us together.”
He added: “We told her to clean a cool box out that we had had sandwiches in for the journey home. It was a chore basically and I’m sure all teenagers are the same, she didn’t want to do a chore. That was the last conversation.”
Ms Peat said: “We were in the living room and I heard the front door slam.”
She went on: “I heard the door and when I went out I couldn’t see her anywhere. She had just gone.”
She said Amber was not in contact with her natural father, who lives in Scotland.
Superintendent Matt McFarlane said today: “On behalf of Nottinghamshire Police I would like to thank the local community and those further afield for their help in our search to find Amber Peat.
“From the moment Amber was reported missing, our teams worked tirelessly alongside the community to try and find her.
“Over 400 officers and staff, including those from our five neighbouring East Midlands forces, were looking for her. Sadly this was not the outcome that any of us were hoping for.
“Our thoughts are with Amber’s family, and we do ask that you please respect their privacy and that of her wider family.
“A post-mortem and formal identification will take place later today.”
Dozens of floral tributes, along with teddies and other mementoes, have been laid around a large tree near to where the body was found.
One message from school classmates said: “I hope your parents find the strength to find peace.”
It added: “Hope the angels make you smile.”
Another said: “Our thoughts are with your family at this sad time. Sleep well little angel.”
One of the messages pinned to a photograph of Amber said: “You will never be forgotten – an angel taken from us too soon.
Really thought we’d find you safe. I’m sorry to all of those hearts you touched. “
It concluded: “Dance with the angels darling.”
Rianna Richards, 12, was in tears after she laid flowers in memory of her friend.
She said she had been sent home from school because she was so upset.
“She was a nice person, she was funny,” Rianna said.
She said her friend did not seem to have anything on her mind when she last saw her.
Her mother Sharon said: “You don’t really expect this to happen this close to home.
“It’s hard to take in when things like this happen. Obviously we don’t know what’s happened. It’s hard to imagine. I think it’s just more shock than anything.”
Trudy Stockard, 43, from Shirebrook, Derbyshire, said she was one of those who came to search over the weekend.
“People just can’t get their head round it,” she said.
“Everybody pulled together to do what they can and that’s what we all did.
“You just have to think what must the parents be going through. You can’t get your head around it.”