Police investigate whether stranger abducted Bobbi-Anne McLeod
Police investigating the alleged murder of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod in Devon are examining whether she was abducted by a stranger after waiting at a bus stop.
Detectives are also pursuing a sexual motive as a significant line of inquiry.
McLeod went missing after leaving her home in Plymouth at about 6pm on Saturday. After a three-day search, a body believed to be hers was discovered on Tuesday near Bovisand, about six miles from Plymouth.
Two men, aged 24 and 26, who were arrested on suspicion of murder, continue to be held by police in Plymouth and fingertip searches of multiple sites were taking place across the city.
On Wednesday McLeod’s brother led tributes, describing her as “beautiful and talented”.
Nikki Leaper, an assistant chief constable with Devon and Cornwall police, said: “The two men who were arrested on suspicion of murder remain in police custody at this time. We do not anticipate this to change throughout today as inquiries continue at a pace.”
A source with knowledge of the investigation said it was most likely to have been a stranger abduction, and detectives were trying to establish how many people were involved.
McLeod, a college student described by police as 1.50 metres (4ft 11ins) tall and of slight build, had been due to catch a bus into Plymouth city centre to meet her boyfriend on Saturday evening. She left her home in Leigham at about 6pm but did not arrive in the centre.
Before the body was found a close family friend, Amanda Isaacs, 34, said: “Her headphones and baccy were found at the bus stop and there’s just no trace. It has been sealed off and forensics are there.”
Isaacs described McLeod as very family-oriented, adding: “She is 18, but she is very tiny and very slim that she probably looks about 15 in reality.”
Detectives are investigating whether McLeod, who had waited at a bus stop, went willingly with occupants of a passing car, or was abducted.
A local MP said on Wednesday the death was another disturbing example of the “cultural problem of violence against women”.
There was a sense of anger and fear in Plymouth, with some women too frightened to go out alone and others investing in rape alarms. Police refused to say if they were looking for anyone else in relation to the investigation, which added to the concern.
McLeod’s brother, Lee, 20, posted a picture on Facebook of himself and his sister together as children and wrote: “Until we meet again sis. I love you. You didn’t deserve this. Such a beautiful and talented girl and to have you as my little sister. The adventure and journey we had been on will always be treasured. Now go rest easy.”
Isaacs, a friend and neighbour, also paid tribute after setting up a GoFundMe page that quickly raised thousands of pounds for McLeod’s family.
The body was located near Bovisand in South Hams, on the south coast of Devon, about seven miles from McLeod’s home, after information was passed to the police.
Devon and Cornwall police said on Tuesday night that formal identification had yet to be carried out but McLeod’s family had been informed of the development and were being supported by officers.
Police had been conducting searches and inquiries across Plymouth, supported by a helicopter. A Facebook page set up to help find McLeod attracted more than 13,000 members. Friends and local residents joined searches of woods near her home on Monday and Tuesday.
Smeaton’s Tower, a lighthouse on the waterfront, will be lit purple on Wednesday evening, drawing attention to the abuse of women.
The Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Luke Pollard, said Britain had a cultural problem with violence against women.
He said: “I suspect there will be people in our city who will want to look again at what is happening in the violence against women and girls area. We know that there is too much violence against women and girls. It is completely unacceptable. We have a cultural problem right across Britain. We need to look at how we keep everybody safe in Plymouth.”
Pollard referred to the Keyham shootings in Plymouth in August in which five people were killed by Jake Davison, 22, before he turned the gun on himself.
The MP said: “It’s now three months since the Keyham shootings took place and our city was beginning to heal and come to terms with the awful events that took place in August.”
A cordon has been set up blocking access to the road leading to the Bovisand cafe and car park, and also the holiday park, where a number of people are staying in caravans. Searches were also taking place in woods close to McLeod’s home.
Leaper said searches were expected to continue over the coming days, adding: “The public can expect to see can increased visible police presence during that time.”
Floral tributes appeared close to the bus stop where she was last seen alive and a vigil is planned there for Thursday evening. One tribute read: “Sadly you have gained your wings and been taken too soon, you will forever be in our hearts.”