Joanna Yeates: police await postmortem resultsPolice are treating the landscape architect's death as suspicious, but have not yet released details of a possible cause
Share Steven Morris and Peter Walker guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 December 2010 13.07 GMT Article history
Joanna Yeates at her graduation in November. Photograph: Handout/PA
Police were today awaiting the results of a postmortem examination on the body of Joanna Yeates, whose snow-covered remains were found on a roadside verge outside Bristol eight days after she disappeared.
Avon and Somerset police are treating the 25-year-old landscape architect's death as suspicious but have not released any more details about the possible cause.
However, it is understood that there were no obvious injuries to Yeates's body. One possibility that police have not eliminated is that she was dumped by the side of the road while still alive and could have died of hypothermia.
More should be known from the results of the postmortem which are expected later today. The examination has proved difficult because Yeates's remains were frozen. Officers are carrying out fingertip searches of the area around the verge at Longwood Lane, Failand, near Long Ashton, where the body was found, clothed and covered in snow, on Christmas morning. The location, next to a quarry and between two golf courses, is three miles from her flat in the Clifton area of Bristol.
Detectives appealed for witnesses who had seen anyone acting suspiciously near the scene. They are also to study CCTV footage from cameras that cover the roads between Yeates's home and Failand.
The most direct route from the flat, which Yeates shared with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon, in Canynge Road, takes in the Clifton bridge, but there are many other ways of getting out of the city.
Yeates vanished on 17 December after leaving a pub in Bristol, where she had been drinking with work colleagues. Reardon reported her missing two days later on his return from a weekend away. The disappearance prompted a police search, but the family's worst fears were realised when a couple walking their dogs found the body.
Yesterday, police confirmed the body was that of Yeates.
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: "While a formal identification procedure is yet to be completed, police are satisfied that the body is that of landscape architect Joanna Yeates, who went missing during the weekend before Christmas."
Police want information to help "fill in the gap between Joanna's disappearance and the discovery of her body".
Yeates was last seen leaving the Ram pub in Park Street in Bristol at about 8pm on 17 December. She shopped in Waitrose on the way – where she was filmed on CCTV – and then rang her best friend to arrange to meet on Christmas Eve.
She went on to the Tesco Express on Regent Street, a quarter of a mile from her flat. Officers released footage of her buying a pizza in the supermarket.
There was no trace of the pizza, the wrapping or the box in the flat, even though other possessions, including her mobile phone, her keys, handbag and coat, were there.
Yeates's father, David, 63, said in some ways it would be a relief if the body found was his daughter's because her family assumed she was dead. If the body was hers, he added, they would be able at least to say goodbye to her properly.
The family believed she had been abducted because of the state the flat was left in, and because of other details that neither they nor the police have yet revealed.
The spokesman added: "Officers are keen to hear from people who may have seen anything or anyone acting suspiciously over the past week in the Longwood Lane area. Police are expected to be continuing their fingertip search throughout today and possibly longer."
Chief Superintendent Jon Stratford said: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to Joanna's family for their loss. We have not stopped working hard throughout the Christmas period to find their daughter after she was reported missing. Now we will work just as hard to discover exactly what happened to her and how she came to be in Longwood Lane on Christmas morning.
"Until the postmortem examination is able to firmly establish how Joanna died, we are keeping an open mind about the cause of her death. However, I would appeal to anyone with any information whatsoever that can help this investigation to please come forward and help us provide Joanna's parents with the answers they so desperately want and need."
Thirty detectives have been working on the investigation, codenamed Operation Braid, and are being assisted by a further 40 staff, including uniformed officers, scenes of crime officers and search teams.
On a Facebook page set up to try to help find Yeates, one friend, Bec Wood, wrote: "Rest in peace Jo. You will always be loved and remembered for being so beautiful, kind, successful, and lovely. You made Greg so happy. Our thoughts are with Greg, your parents and all of your families and friends. We will miss you Jo, and hope that you have peace now."
In her parents' home village of Ampfield in Hampshire, the Rev Peter Gilks said prayers were being said for Yeates and her family.
Gregs mother said they discussed marriage, Jo's dad does not think they did... however their relationship was solid...and still he telephones , he sends text messages...she does not reply...he arrives home, the flat in a state (according to police) and HE STILL waits four hours before raising the alarm.