THE mum of a 16-year-old who was found dead after she allegedly went to meet a man off a dating site has been left “absolutely distraught” as police arrest a teenager on suspicion of her murder.
The body of Leonne Weeks was found on an isolated pathway by a member of the public in Dinnington area of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, just before 11am yesterday.
Officers were today investigating a property just streets away from where Leonne‘s body was found while cops confirmed her body is still at the crime scene.
Her family has today paid tribute to the “quiet girl” who “wouldn’t hurt anybody” after South Yorkshire Police confirmed they were now pursuing a murder investigation.
Leonne‘s heartbroken aunt, Jean Oldfield, 47, said that the tragic death of her “lovely” niece had shattered the family.
With tears rolling down her cheeks, she said:
“They [the family] are just completely devastated and shocked by what’s happened – my sister Paula is absolutely distraught.”
She added: “All we know is a man has been arrested.
“Our Leonne is not that type of person – I don’t know who would do this to her.
“Leonne was popular, but quiet and would mix about with anyone.
“She is a nice person and such a lovely lass – I don’t know how anyone could do this.
Asked if she had a boyfriend, Jean said: “I don’t know if she was single or not. Like I say, I don’t know anymore than that.”
Jean said Leonne had finished school at Dinnington Comprehensive School and was doing a hair and beauty course at Dinnington College.
Leonne‘s mother Paula Oldfield, who previously captioned a Facebook photo of her three children “My world”, was said to be too upset to talk to the press.
According to online tributes, Leonne had a younger brother called Levi and a younger sister called Millie.
Her mum Paula laid flowers at the scene this morning but did not say anything and hid her face as she stood close to the police cordon.
Police today said they are questioning an 18-year-old man, from Dinnington, in connection with her death and have launched a murder enquiry.
Cops are continuing to scour the scene as a large 600-metre-square police cordon still remains in place.
Forensics officers used a drone to scour the crime scene despite light fog patches this morning while a number of police vehicles remain at Lordens Hill.
Friends of the 16-year-old chillingly confirmed Leonne “had gone to meet someone” before her body was discovered by a member of the public down an isolated pathway at 10.55am on Monday.
A young man in his 20’s, who wished to remain anonymous and stood by the scene just off Lordens Hill, said he was “deeply shocked” at the death of his friend.
Speaking about the discovery, he said: “I used to be neighbours with her and know her really well – she’s a good mate of mine is Leonne.
“We don’t know what’s happened, all we know is she went to meet someone – meet a bloke [the man] – and now her body has been found.”
Adding: “She met him off the internet – one of those dating sites.”
Asked if he knew how Leonne had died, he added: “I don’t know – all I know is the pathway is just a dead end and backs onto a few allotments down there.”
Senior investigating officer on the case Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate said he could not confirm if Leonne had met a man on a date – but officers were looking into social media for clues.
Speaking at the scene this morning, the South Yorkshire DCI said: “Clearly, this is a murder inquiry.
“We are gathering as much evidence as we can and these things take time. We have specialist investigators working to carry out this investigation methodically.
“We have a local 18-year-old under arrest and are in early stages of the investigation.
“The body is still at the scene and we still have a family who reported a person missing.
“It is important we investigate methodically and this may take us a little time. I know it is frustrating, but that is all I can say at this moment in time.”
Asked if Leonne had used a dating site to meet a man, DCI Tate added: “I cannot comment on that.
“Social media is such a big place – but we are looking at social media.”
Friends and family posted desperate Facebook appeals for Leonne‘s whereabouts on Monday morning after she failed to return home and urged anyone with information to contact her parents.
At 9am, Jolene Dunk wrote: “Anyone seen Leonne Weeks if so contact her mum Paula Appley or Darran Weeks or me need to know she is safe.”
At 11.30am, Leonne‘s uncle Danny Bowskill wrote: “If any 1 sees my niece Leonne Weeks let me know asap as not been home.”
By 6pm, comments from friends hoping she was found safe had changed to well wishes to the family after “heartbreaking news”.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Bowskill wrote: “Rest in peace my wonderful niece never thought I would ever be writing this but Leonne Weeks you was and still are loved by so many.
“I’ll be there for your dad and mum all the way. Fly high and I hope my mum was there to guide you every step of the way up there.”
On Leonne‘s Facebook account, there were more than 100 tributes posted under her latest profile picture, which she last updated on December 28 with a Snapchat filter of a dog’s nose and ears over a selfie.
Kian Foster wrote: “Fly high angel.”
Bommer McLauchlan said: “Fly high cousin can’t believe you have gone miss you.”
Braden Oldfield added: “Sleep tight Leonne, Can’t believe u been taken away so early gone but never forgotten.”
An outpouring of tributes have been paid by people on Facebook since news of her tragic death broke last night.
John Leaver wrote: “Leonne Weeks may you rest in peace sweetheart. I’m so angry at the world for this.
“So proud to see Levi James Weeks & Millie Weeks being so brave tonight. Lots of love to everyone on such a sad sad day.”
One user said: “Can’t even get my head over this! Such a quiet nice lass! Wouldn’t harm anybody and gets taken away at 16 years old with a while Life ahead of her r.i.p Leonne Weeks darling [sic]”.
Another user said: “Thinking of you all at this sad time Paula Appley sweet dreams to your princess xx.”
One card read: “To Leonne and family. Thinking about you, miss you so much. Sleep tight, fly high angel.”
Another one of Leonne‘s friends, who was at the scene last night, said: “She was just absolutely sound, always up for a laugh.
“She was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met – she was lovely.”
Adding: “It’s just so shocking – I can’t believe it, I never thought something like this would happen.”
Cops said this evening that Leonne had been reported missing 20 minutes before her body was found.
Police said last night they were treating the death as suspicious due to “concerns around the state of the body and the injuries.”
Superintendent Sarah Poolman said: “The investigation is in its very early stages however we are treating the death as suspicious.
“To provide reassurance to the local community and wider general public, additional police patrols are in place and will continue over the coming days.
“I would urge anyone who believes they have information about the incident to please come forward.”
Kevin Barron MP for the Rother Valley tweeted last night: “I am incredibly sad to hear about the discovery of a teenage girl’s body in Dinnington near my constituency office this morning.
“I would like to send my condolences to the family and friends of this young girl. We must now allow the police time to investigate.”
South Yorkshire Police are asking anyone with information to call on 101 quoting incident number 256 of 16 January 2017.
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