Alice Gross
The body of Alice Gross was discovered in a nearby canal.Met Police

The parents of murdered teenager Alice Gross have said they are "completely devastated" after her body was discovered in a river near their home.

Gross was last seen on CCTV walking along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal towards Hanwell, on 28 August. She failed to return to her home in west London.

Scotland Yard confirmed today that they had recovered the schoolgirl's body from the River Brent, after a five-week search involving more than 300 police officers, turning the investigation into a murder inquiry.

In a statement Rosalind Hodgkiss and Jose Gross described their devastation following the murder of their 14-year-old daughter.

"It is difficult to comprehend that our sweet and beautiful daughter was the victim of a terrible crime. Why anyone would want to hurt her is something that we are struggling to come to terms with.

"Alice was a loving and much loved daughter and sister, a quirky live spark of a girl, beautiful inside and out. She was a funny companion, a loyal friend, both passionate and compassionate, and so talented with a bright future ahead of her. This is a time for grieving and not a time for anger or recriminations."

Met Police said a post-mortem examination will continue into Thursday due to the "complex nature" of the investigation.

Commander Graham McNulty said on Wednesday that "significant efforts" had been made to conceal the body.

Brentside High School, where Alice was a pupil, released a statement in which they described her as an "outstanding" pupil.

"Alice was an outstanding and talented student who will be sorely missed from our school community. This is a very sad day for our school and we are devastated by this tragic loss. We are doing everything we can to support each other and will continue to do so in the days and weeks ahead."

Convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, who was caught on CCTV cycling along the same route behind Alice, has emerged as the prime suspect in the case.

The Latvian builder was reported missing within days of her disappearance, but police have stated that he is just "one line of enquiry".