Tia Sharp, the missing schoolgirl who was found dead in her grandmother's loft on Friday, may have been smothered before her body was wrapped in a bed sheet and bin liner and hidden.
The details emerged as Stuart Hazell, the partner of Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp, appeared in a court via video-link accused of murdering the 12-year-old, whose disappearance prompted a huge search by scores of officers and volunteers.
Hazell (37), of New Addington, Surrey, remained at a south London police station for yesterday's hearing and was seen on screens at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court.
Hazell is accused of killing Tia between August 2 and August 11. He spoke only to confirm his name, age and address and to say that he understood the charge against him during the three-minute hearing.
Hazell's partner, Christine Sharp (46), was arrested on suspicion of murder, but bailed until October.
A neighbour, Paul Meehan, was also held on suspicion of assisting an offender and later bailed.
A post-mortem is expected to continue this week before her body is formally identified. DNA tests are also to be carried out.