Distraught mum of missing girl, 16, found dead in bush 'devastated' amid claim they had 'dispute' before she vanishedMay 22, 2020
THE mum of a missing girl, 16, found dead in bushes has been left "devastated" – as neighbours claim they had "a dispute" before she vanished.
Louise Smith vanished from her home in Havant, Hampshire, at midday on May 8 after telling friends she was briefly popping out.
And after a desperate search lasting 13 days, police yesterday confirmed they had found a body in the Havant thicket area and were treating the death as suspicious.
Detectives investigating the death of Louise are now understood to be searching the home of a married couple nearby.
Neighbours said the couple had initially been arrested last week on suspicion of kidnapping the tragic 16-year-old and she may have been staying there in the days leading up to her disappearance.
Specialist forensic officers have been seen taking "bag loads" of items including carpet and clothing from the flat in Havant.
Those living nearby described the couple as "quiet" and said they "didn't get out of the house much".
It was suggested Louise may have been staying there as she may have had a dispute with mum Rebecca Cooper over boyfriend troubles.
Pals of Rebecca, 39, have said she is devastated and is being comforted by family and friends.
One neighbour claimed that on May 8, the day Louise vanished, the woman posted on Facebook stating "Louise has gone missing… she was supposed to be in my care, she went to the shops for her friends and now she's missing."
A family friend also suggested that Louise had previously started an online relationship with an older man two years ago.
Today police officers guarded the door of the flat owned by the man and woman and forensics officers in white PPE overalls searched inside.
One middle aged woman who lives in the block today said: "We had sniffer dogs yesterday. Over the past week we've had vans arriving and taking clothing, carpets – basically everything.
"There's been a huge police presence and they've been bringing loads out.
"The last post [the woman] had up on Facebook was '[Louise] has gone missing, she was supposed to be in my care, she went to the shops for her friends and now she's missing'."
Describing the couple, she said: "I never had any complaints against him, he'd always say hi but it was only general chit chat."
One neighbour claimed Louise fell out with her mother and was staying at the address.
The man in his 20s said: "She wanted to see her boyfriend… they were on and off.
"I met Louise a couple of times."
A man and woman, both 29, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap last Friday and have since been released on bail.
The grim find comes after a huge search was launched for the teen.
Cops released CCTV of Louise captured at a nearby Tesco Metro store the day before she vanished.
Volunteers from the Isle of Wight Search and Rescue team also joined the hunt in Hampshire, Berkshire, Sussex and Surrey.
Louise was due to return home to spend the weekend with her boyfriend, who had come over to stay.
During the search, detectives managed to trace her mobile phone to a skate park before it was switched off two hours later.
Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Mackechnie added: “Officers located a body in an area of woodland in Havant Thicket.
“We know that news of this discovery will be very upsetting for the community, so I want to reassure you that we will be working around the clock to establish what has happened."
Appealing for help, police said at the time: "If you were out celebrating or filming on VE Day in Leigh Park, we ask you to please take a look back over your footage to see if you captured Louise walking by.
"Perhaps you drove through the area on VE Day and saw someone matching Louise’s description, or caught her on Dash Cam."
Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting 44200163113, or you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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