A woman found dead at the side of a rural road 100 miles from her home was reported missing after her body had already been found, a senior detective said tonight.
Police said they were treating the death of Annalise Johnstone, 22, as “suspicious” and have launched a major investigation.
She was found dead and without her mobile phone, wallet and medication on the afternoon of May 10 – less than 24 hours after she left her home in Ardrossan.
Annalise travelled from the Ayrshire town to Auchterarder, Perthshire – where it is understood she has family – in a silver Ford Galaxy on the afternoon of May 9.
That car was later found damaged in Green Julian Place, Perthshire, at the weekend – around a 25 minute drive from where Annalise was last seen.
However, officers said the damage was not consistent with the people carrier striking Annalise.
Annalise, who is a member of the travelling community, was found on the B8062 road that connects Auchterarder to Dunning around two miles from Ruthven Court, Auchterarder, where she was last seen around 10pm on Wednesday night.
Last night police remained on guard outside a terraced house in Green Julian Place, where the car Miss Johnstone had travelled to Auchterarder in was found.
The property was cordoned-off, with a single police officer sitting in a marked car outside the house.
Detective Superintendent James Smith, the senior investigating officer in the case, said the cause of her death could still not be explained.
He said: “I have concerns around certain aspects around this investigation.
“This is not a run of the mill type thing.
“She clearly has injuries that I can’t go in to detail about – there’s been a lot of interpretation and expert opinion required.
“She was reported as a missing person in the early hours of Friday May 11. We already had this investigation going on and we had to marry that up.
“People in the area are perhaps thinking its a road traffic accident or hypothermia or that kind of thing.
“We are investing a lot in this to find the answers for Annalise’s family.”
Asked if someone else was involved in her death he said: “That’s an answer we are trying to get to.
“We are covering every eventuality – third party involvement is being considered.
“We are making sure we capture everything forensically from the scene and around her movements.”
DS Smith, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigations Team, added: “I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Annalise at this time.
“We have specialist officers assisting the family through these difficult times.
“Our enquiries are continuing to establish the full circumstances surrounding this death and I would like to appeal to anyone who may have any information to come forward.
“Officers are carrying out forensic examinations as well as reviewing CCTV and speaking to the local community in and around the area.
“As part of our investigation it has been established that Annalise had left her home address in Ardrossan around 5pm on Wednesday May 9 and has travelled to the Tayside area.
“Annalise was last seen near to Ruthven Court, Auchterarder around about 10pm that same day having been dropped off there.
“I am also keen to confirm the movements of a silver coloured Ford Galaxy motor vehicle, registration mark ST67 HXL, which is linked this enquiry. I would appeal to the public who may have seen this vehicle to also contact police.
“We are also looking to trace her iPhone 5s mobile phone which is lime green in colour, within a red flip style case, and a small wallet which has the Marvel superheroes thereon.
“A clear bag of medication which is 4-5 inches in size which will have a sticker on it with Annalise’s name is also missing.
“We are doing everything we can to try and find out what has happened to Annalise and would seek the assistance of the public in that respect.
“Please get in touch with us even if you think your information may not be relevant to the enquiry, it may prove vital in establishing what has happened to Annalise.”
Chief Inspector Ian Scott, Local Area Commander for Perth and Kinross added: “We are aware the incident may raise concerns in Perthshire and the wider community but I would like to take the opportunity to reassure the public that there will be a visible police presence whilst investigations are carried out.
“I would like to thank the local community for their patience whilst this is ongoing and if anyone has any concerns or information, they should speak to an officer.”
A force spokesman added: “Anyone with information that may assist our enquiries should contact Police Scotland on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or by e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org”