Police have confirmed the body they found in a West Sussex field yesterday is that of missing eight-year old Sarah Payne.
A farm worker found the human remains less than 12 miles from where Sarah went missing near her grandparents’ home near Littlehampton on 1 July.
The partly covered body was lying 10 yards away from the A29 between Pulborough and Billingshurst.
Sarah’s parents, Sara and Michael, spent 20 minutes at the scene and laid flowers there. They looked at the tributes left by hundreds of well-wishers and police.
Earlier Assistant Chief Constable of West Sussex Nigel Yeo announced the finger prints were Sarah’s and a murder inquiry was underway.
The press conference then observed half a minute’s silence.
Police said the naked body had been there for some time and had no obvious sign of injury, but they would not disclose whether any sexual assault had taken place.
They are still looking for Sarah’s blue dress and black shoes and they are focussing their search on a white van seen by her brothers when she went missing.
The A29 remains closed and a tent shrouds where the body was uncovered.
Sixty-five police officers – some with sniffer dogs – are combing the area for more evidence and further tests are being carried out on the body in search of vital DNA clues.
Sarah went missing 16 days ago after playing in a cornfield with her brothers Lee, 13, and Luke, 11, and her five-year-old sister Charlotte.
The family have held almost daily briefings with the media and so far investigators have dealt with 20,000 calls from the public.
Courtesy BBC News
Two days later police found what they believed to be one of Sarah’s shoes in the village of Coolham, a few miles to the east of where the body was found.
On 31 July, Roy Whiting – a known paedophile – was arrested then released on bail. He had already been questioned and released on 2 July.
Whiting was arrested and charged with the murder on 6 February 2001.
On 12 December 2001 he was found guilty of abducting and murdering Sarah Payne and given a life sentence.
In 1995 Whiting had been given a four year sentence for attacking a nine-year-old girl.
The News of the World supported Sara and Michael Payne in their campaign for “Sarah’s Law” and public access to the sex offenders’ register.
Pressure for a so-called Sarah’s Law has been maintained. But the government has resisted calls saying there would be a risk of the public taking the law into their own hands.