The murder of a teenage girl on a hillside overlooking Belfast was branded as brutal and savage by police tonight.
The half naked body of 16-year-old Megan McAlorum was found in a wooded area close to a quarry overlooking Belfast near Dunmurry.
A senior police officer confirmed that the body was discovered by local people at around the same time Megan had been reported missing from her Glencolin Way home on the edge of the Lenadoon estate in West Belfast, after failing to return from an Easter Sunday night out.
Speaking close to the scene of the murder, Detective Chief Inspector Raymond Murray said: “All murders are brutal and all murders are savage. It is difficult to quantify one above the other but, at the end of the day, a 16-year-old girl, we believe, is found murdered in a quarry area, what more can we say, it’s a brutal murder.”
Despite a series of sex attacks in west Belfast over the past year, the detective declined to be drawn on the motive for the murder or whether she was sexually assaulted.
Her body remained at the scene throughout much of the day as forensic experts scoured the area for clues.
A post-mortem was due to be carried out later, after which detectives would discover whether the teenager had been sexually assaulted.
DCI Murray said the girl had suffered head injuries.
He revealed Megan had been at a local bar, The Hunting Lodge, from around 10pm on Sunday night.
He said: “It was very, very important we trace Megan’s movements from the time she left The Hunting Lodge until the time of her murder.”
He said police believed she left at around midnight and the body was found and reported to police at 2.45pm the following afternoon.
He said: “My appeal to the public is for anybody who has a knowledge of Megan’s movements from midnight on Sunday, any movements, anyone she was seen with, any location she was seen at, please get in touch with detectives.
“That is very, very important, please come forward.”
Earlier, Megan’s distraught parents pleaded for the public to help catch their daughter’s killer.
Frankie and Margaret McAlorum said they could not understand why anyone would want to murder their daughter.
“She was full of love and life,” said her mother, adding: “She trusted people too much.”
Her father said their daughter may have been dragged into a car near their home and that witnesses had told him she had been arguing with somebody on the road.
The couple have six other children, and fear the killer could strike again.
Weeping, Mrs McAlorum said: “Get in contact with the police. Megan just turned 16 years of age, if he could do it to her, he could do it to anybody.”