Police are “satisfied” a body found on Christmas Day is missing architect Joanna Yeates.
They said at this stage they are treating the death as suspicious, but are waiting on the results of a post mortem examination.
The discovery was made at 9am on Saturday by a couple walking their dogs in the Failand area of North Somerset.
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: “We are satisfied the body is Joanna Yeates, but this is pending the results of a post mortem which is not expected for at least 24 hours due to the nature of how she was found in such extreme conditions.”
Police said the formal identification procedure is yet to be completed, but they have spoken to the 25-year-old’s family and explained the situation.
Miss Yeates’ father said on Saturday he “would be relieved” if the body was his daughter so they would have the opportunity to say goodbye. Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, David Yeates said: “Of course we don’t know for sure that it’s her but we assume that it is.
“Nobody else has been reported missing and it’s the body of a young girl close to where Jo disappeared. It hasn’t been a Christmas for us. I don’t know what it’s been. It’s been surreal, totally unreal. We’re just waiting now for the police to tell us what we suspect.
“In truth we feel like we hope … we would be relieved if it was her.
“We don’t want to go to our graves wondering where she is and not being given the chance to say goodbye to her. We assume that she’s dead so we’d like to say goodbye … our lives have gone.”
The body was found on a snow-covered verge on a country lane on Christmas morning three miles from where Miss Yeates lived with her boyfriend, Greg Reardon. The scene in Longwood Lane, close to Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, was sealed off for forensic examination. Police are expected to continue their fingertip search in the Longwood Lane area.