A MURDER hunt was launched last night after the body of a missing Glasgow prostitute was found dumped in a remote area of South Lanarkshire.

The badly-decomposed body of 27-year-old Emma Caldwell was discovered in woodland between Roberton and Rigside, near Biggar, by a walker on Sunday afternoon.

Ms Caldwell, the eighth Glasgow prostitute to be murdered in the past 14 years, disappeared a month ago after leaving a hostel in Inglefield Street, Govanhill, on the south side of Glasgow.

It is understood she had been working as a prostitute to fund a drug habit.

Ms Caldwell was last seen walking in Butterbiggins Road, towards Victoria Road, at 11pm on April 4, and was reported missing by a family member a week later.

Her body was found in woodland close to main routes such as the M74 between Glasgow and England and the A702, one of the main links to south-west Scotland.

Detective Superintendent Willie Johnston, leading the investigation, said last night:

"Inquiries into Emma's death are at a very early stage.

"Forensic officers are carrying out a detailed search of the area and a team of officers has been dedicated to this investigation.

"I am anxious to speak to anyone who has seen Emma since April 4 or has any information whatsoever concerning the circumstances leading up to her death.

"Contact the incident room at Cathcart police office on 0141 532 4943.

"Alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111where calls can be treated in confidence."

The woodland sits between Roberton, a hamlet on the river Clyde north of Abington, and Rigside, a former mining village.

The catalogue of prostitute killings in Glasgow began in 1991when Diane McInally, 23, was found dead in Pollok Park.

Two men were charged with her murder, but released because of a lack of evidence.

Two years later, Karen McGregor, a 26-year-old mother-of-two, was strangled.

Leona McGovern, 22, was found dead in a Glasgow car park in 1995. She had been stabbed 17 times and throttled.

Later that year, the body of Marjorie Roberts, 34, was found floating in the Clyde.

Police could not say if she had fallen or was pushed in.

In 1996, Tracey Wylde, 21, was found beaten to death in her f lat in Barmulloch.

In the same year, Jackie Gallacher, 26, of Glen Allan Way, Paisley, suffered 118 injuries after disappearing from Glasgow city centre on June 24.

In 1998, Margo Lafferty, 27, was murdered after picking up a client in Glasgow. Three years later Brian Donnelly was jailed for life for her killing.