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Family and friends pay tribute to teenager found dead on Rotherham pathway

Tributes have been paid to a teenage girl with "a smile that could brighten anyone's day" after her body was found on a pathway.

Friends and family shared their memories of the 16-year-old, named online as Leonne Weeks, as an 18-year-old man arrested on suspicion of her murder remained in police custody.

The man was arrested on Monday night after a body was found by a member of the public just off Lordens Hill in Dinnington, Rotherham, at about 10.55am, South Yorkshire Police said.

Amber Levers, 16, who said she was the schoolgirl's cousin, told the Press Association: "Everyone is so upset. She meant a lot to so many.

"She was a blessing and a princess with a heart of gold, and a smile that could brighten anyone's day. She was so beautiful."

A 16-year-old former pupil of Leonne's school who did not wish to be named told the Press Association: "She was a lovely girl - very high-spirited and so funny.

"She wouldn't hurt nobody - not even a fly, it's just a shame that this has happened."

Pupils and staff at Dinnington High School were receiving support following the news, principal Rebecca Staples said.

Ms Staples added: "The body has not been formally identified, so there is always a chance it is not Leonne.

"We have a lot of upset students because of what has happened in a small community. Support for students and staff is available while we wait for more news."

On Leonne's Facebook account, more than 100 tributes were posted under her latest profile picture, updated on December 28 with a Snapchat filter of a dog's nose and ears over a selfie.

Leonne's mother Paula Appley, 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.

Dozens of floral tributes were left near the muddy pathway as officers in forensic suits scoured the area where Leonne was found.

One read: "To Leonne and family. Thinking about you. Miss you so much. Sleep tight. Fly high angel."

Friends and family posted desperate Facebook appeals for Leonne's whereabouts on Monday morning after she failed to return home on Sunday night, appealing for people to let her mother and father know she was safe.

Leonne's uncle Danny Bowskill, who had previously posted an appeal, shared a tribute alongside a video of an emotional song Dancing in the Sky on Tuesday.

He said: "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."

Temporary Superintendent Sarah Poolman said police were treating the death as suspicious because of "concerns around the state of the body and injuries".

She said the force had received a report of a missing person 20 minutes before the body was found.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident number 256 of January 16.

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