POLICE investigating the murder of a six-year-old girl on Scotland's remote Isle of Bute have urged local parents to "lock your doors".
Alesha MacPhail was reported missing from her grandmother’s home in Rothesay at 6.25am on Monday morning.
Her body was found by a member of the public less than a mile away in woodland on the site of a former hotel around two-and-a-half hours later.
The schoolgirl was visiting for a three-week holiday at the time and had only been on the island for a few days.
Detectives confirmed they were treating Alesha's death as murder following the results of a post-mortem examination late last night.
— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) July 4, 2018
Police on Bute - around 40 miles from Glasgow off Britain's northwest coast - have been conducting door-to-door inquiries around the island of 6,500 people and are warning residents to lock their doors.
They have also urged islanders to "stay vigilant" about the safety of their children and the security of their homes as their investigation continues.
"Our absolute priority is catching the person responsible for this horrendous act as quickly as possible," DSI Stuart Houston told reporters.
"Incidents such as this are extremely rare but we are still in the early stages of this investigation and we would ask people to be vigilant about their children and also about their household security.
Police on the move
outside the house where Alesha MacPhail aged 6 was staying before she died.
The lead detective said yesterday it was now a murder investigation.
He wouldn’t say if he was following a definite line of inquiry or if he thought her killer was still on Bute. pic.twitter.com/kE2ttKVlYF
— James Shaw (@JGBS) July 4, 2018
"The island community has to pull together at times like this."
It comes after a car was seized in relation to the murder investigation today and a cat was removed from the home of Alesha's grandmother.
Extra officers have been brought in from the Scottish mainland to hunt for the killer and police have promised 24-hour patrols.
Police did not say whether they believe the person responsible is still on the island.
DSI Houston said Alesha's family were "utterly devastated" by her death.
After relatively little national coverage, news sinking in a murderer is on the loose on Bute.
Police Scotland repeatedly urging 'families should look out for each other', but not giving details of post mortem other than it provided key information. 🎥 #BehindTheScenes @GMB pic.twitter.com/ZmobPNvJP2
— Rav Vadgama (@TVRav) July 4, 2018
He added: "Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend again.
"For such a young girl to have her life taken away is incomprehensible."
Tributes have been paid to Alesha, who was a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire - where the headteacher said she would be "greatly missed".
Flowers, teddies and balloons have been left on the pavement outside a property on Ardbeg Road close to where her body was discovered.
Anyone with information is urged to call 101, quoting incident number 0695 of July 2.
— Faye (@fayeseymour) July 3, 2018