A murder investigation has been launched after the body of teenager Paige Doherty was found in Clydebank.

The 15-year-old was reported missing on Saturday after she failed to arrive at work in Kirkintilloch.

She left a friend’s house in Angus Street at 8.15am after a sleepover and was planning to take a bus to the city centre and travel onwards to the East Dunbartonshire town.

But Paige did not arrive at Street Image hairdressers and her mother reported her missing, sparking a hunt for the teenager.

The body of a 15-year-old girl was found in undergrowth on Monday near to a golf centre and five-a-side football complex off Great Western Road.

Detective Superintendent Duncan Sloan from Police Scotland's Major Investigations Team confirmed yesterday that it was Paige Doherty.

He said: “We are treating this case as a murder investigation.”

A post-mortem was due to be carried out yesterday afternoon in a bid to discover the cause of death.

“This is a homicide, a murder investigation, and Paige was assaulted,” Detective Superintendent Sloan added. “We will do all in our power to investigate this and bring some answers as to the circumstances which led to the death of Paige Doherty.”

Paige's mum Pamela Munro, 32, thanked everyone for their support during a two-day hunt for the teenager.

She said: “Myself and Andy Munro would like to thank everyone for their support and help in trying to find our daughter.

“Unfortunately we can confirm that it is our beautiful girl Paige who was found in Clydebank.

“Again thank you for all your support I am seeing everyone’s messages but understandably we've a lot on our minds and can't reply.

“We are absolutely devastated as will many people who know her will be.”

Paige's stepfather Mr Munro, 33, added: “I would just like to again thank all my friends and others who have helped us in this terrible time. It means a lot to us.”

Paige’s cousin Louise Blair paid tribute on Facebook. She said: “I would like to say a goodbye to my little cousin Paige Doherty who was found dead yesterday. She'll be missed by loads of people. RIP angel.”

Shopkeeper Ashy Ahmed, 48, who has run Fleming Foodstore in Fleming Avenue for 25 years, saw the teenager shortly before she went missing.

He said: “I saw her on Saturday morning about quarter past eight. She was a regular, so were her mum and dad and all her family. I know them all well. I was even at Pamela and Andrew’s wedding last year.

“I’m very upset about it so I can’t imagine what they’re going through. I have kids of my own. My youngest is 15. I can’t believe someone could do that to such a petite wee lassie. She was a lovely girl, always smiling. I’m just devastated.”

Police are now trying to build a picture of Paige’s final movements as the murder probe gets underway.

Detective Superintendent Sloan said: “A number of specialised officers are clearly supporting the family in the first instance, and to try and piece together Paige's lifestyle.

“We will need to piece together the movements of Paige from 8.20am on Saturday morning when she went missing until we found the body here on Monday afternoon.

“That's clearly quite a period of time so it's important I ask that anyone who knows Paige, her friends and family, please come forward with any information about her lifestyle and any reason why she may have been attacked.”

Detective Superintendent Sloan added: “Our thoughts are with Paige’s family and friends at this most distressing time and I personally offer my condolences for their tragic loss. Paige was a young, friendly girl with plenty of friends and for her life to be taken away so brutally at such a young age is unfathomable to everyone.”

Shocked friends and colleagues also paid tribute to the teenager on Faceboook last night.

A statement on the Street Image Hairdressing page said: “It is still unbelievable that I am writing these words, my team and I are absolutely shattered with the loss of our junior, Paige, a blessing to have in our lives.

“We cannot begin to imagine the pain Pamela and her family are feeling at this time. Thank you for all the kind words and messages we will pass them on.”

Laura Mason, Chief Education Officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “Paige was a bright and popular pupil with a good sense of humour. Our thoughts are with Paige’s family and friends, and we are doing everything we can to support our young people at this sad time.”

An appeal for cash to help with funeral costs was launched by the ‘Help find Paige’ Facebook page yesterday.

The online community became a focal point for hundreds of locals involved in the search.

A post said: “I will be setting up a Just Giving page soon to help Pamela Munro and Andrew and the rest of the family towards the funeral cost.

“If anyone can dig deep, no matter how small the donation is, every little helps at a time like this.

“Let's give the angel the send-off she really truly deserves. As people can understand this was sudden and horrible so anything to help ease the pain the family are going through.”

Forensics officers have been conducting enquiries at the site where the teenager’s body was found and police are in the process of gathering CCTV footage.

She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a white belly top and a khaki coloured bomber jacket along with a short dark jacket with fur around the neck. She was also wearing white trainers with a gold Nike logo on the side.

On a Saturday morning she would usually take a number 1A, 1B, 1D or number 2 bus from East Barns Street in Clydebank into Glasgow city centre, then travel to work at the hairdressing salon in Kirkintilloch.

Police want to speak to people who saw anyone “acting suspiciously” near to the area off Great Western Road where Paige’s body was discovered.

Detective Superintendent Sloan said: “This is a particularly busy route with lots of cars and buses passing, walkers and joggers on the pavement. Perhaps someone saw a vehicle in the area or people acting out of character or acting unusually that could help us in the investigation.

“Any information, however small, may help this investigation. I would urge anyone with information to contact the police as soon as possible. It is imperative that we find who is responsible for Paige’s murder.”

A dedicated incident room has been set up at Helen Street Police Office which can be contacted by calling 0141 532 5443 or 0141 532 5415. Alternatively, information can be emailed to OperationTalverton@scotland.pnn.police.uk.

Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.