Joanna Yeates, whose snow-covered body was found by dog walkers on Christmas Day, was strangled, police have said.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jones of Avon and Somerset Police revealed the results of a post mortem examination as he declared that her death was now officially being treated as a murder investigation.
He said Joanna, who disappeared on Friday, December 17, had died as a result of compression of the neck.
He appealed for any information about her murder, adding: “Somebody out there does know what happened to Joanna.”
Speaking at a press conference he said police believed her body had been at the spot where she was found for several days.
“What we have to do next is to try and find out why she was killed and who was responsible,” he added.
The 25-year-old landscape architect had been missing for eight days when her clothed body was discovered on Longwood Lane, close to Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, in Failand, North Somerset, about three miles from her home.
The frozen condition of her corpse meant pathologists could not immediately examine it – leaving detectives and family members with an agonising wait to find out her cause of death. Miss Yeates, from Clifton, Bristol, was last seen alive on December 17 when CCTV showed her in a Tesco store on her way home to her flat in Canynge Road.
Miss Yeates’s body was formally identified by parents David, 63, and Theresa, 58, who on Monday made an emotional visit to the site where she was discovered.
The distraught pair, who were joined by a small clutch of family members that included their son Chris and their daughter’s boyfriend Greg Reardon, 27, laid a bouquet of yellow roses with a picture of their daughter on her graduation at the scene.