6-year-old Alesha MacPhail's death being investigated as murder after her body was found in woodlands

The mysterious death of 6-year-old elementary schoolgirl Alesha MacPhail has shocked the tiny community of just 7,500 on the Isle of Bute in Scotland

                            6-year-old Alesha MacPhail's death being investigated as murder after her body was found in woodlands
(Source:Getty Images)

The authorities on the Isle of Bute in Scotland have started a murder investigation to look into the mysterious death of 6-year-old elementary school student Alesha MacPhail. A post-mortem exam that was done on her corpse and that took seven hours to complete found that she had either been killed in her home or on the grounds of a disused hotel where her body was found on July 2 morning. Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, the lead detective in the case, made the announcement on July 3 night at a press conference but he would not reveal how the child was murdered or if the killer was on the run.

The detective would only say that this was a large scale investigation and that there were a few leads being pursued. When the reporters asked him if the girl could have sleep-walked out of the house she was staying in with her grandparents, the detective replied that his team was "exploring a number of lines of inquiry". He also mentioned that the child's family was "devastated" by her death.

Forensic teams are investigating a few sites which include the Kyles Hydropathic Hotel where the body was found by a family member. The authorities have not said if she was killed at the seafront home she was staying in or the abandoned hotel in the woods where her body was found. When the reporters asked the detective superintendent is tourists and locals should be aware of a killer on the loose, he said that everyone should be cautious and report anything suspicious, the Daily Mail reported.

The sentiments were concurred by Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren who is the divisional commander for Argyll and Bute. She said: "People should look after each other and take care. If they have any concerns, they should contact one of our officers. There is an increased police presence on the island.” She would not give any more information such as how many police officers were drafted for the investigation.

Rob MacPhail, the young child's father, had to be supported by his 22-year-old girlfriend Toni McLachlan earlier in the day when he went to see the tributes that were left for his daughter outside the grandparents' home that she disappeared from.

He became visibly emotional when he read the messages that were left by the local residents. The 25-year-old father could be seen crouching down in front of flower bouquets, cuddly toys, balloons and heartfelt handwritten notes that were placed in front of Calum MacPhail and Angela King's home where the couple lives.

Alesha had been staying at her grandparent's place when she was reported as missing from the flat they have on the top floor of the sea-facing building. Angela, her grandmother, had pleaded with the tight-knit community of neighbors to help find her granddaughter. The body was then found only half a mile away from the home at around 9 am at the abandoned Kyles Hydropathic Hotel. 

One hour after the body of the child was found, 23-year-old Georgina Lochrane, Alesha's mother, commented on King's post on social media and asked what happened to her daughter. She said: "Someone tell me what happened. That's my daughter."

A Facebook user then posted a link for an article by the Daily Record that said the police were looking for the child and that a body had been discovered. One hour after that, Lochrane posted: "Angela answer me now" followed by "That is my f****** daughter." Locals said that the father was seen "white as a sheet" calling his daughter's name before her body was discovered.

Many of Lochrane's friends were shocked that the little girl's own mother did not have any information regarding her daughter at the time of the tragedy. Kelly Maddocks wrote: "Absolutely disgusted that this poor baby's mummy has had to read her baby is missing and then find she has passed away! Heartbroken for you Genie Lochrane. I don't know you or your family but you should never have read anything about your wee girl, without hearing it firsthand. Especially before Facebook! God bless."

Members of the child's family had said that the grandparents had tried calling Lochrane as the police were cordoning off the woodlands surrounding the hotel. The Daily Record reported that Lochrane lives in Coatbridge and was escorted from her home to the island by the authorities since the Facebook confusion. It is believed that the child lives in Lanarkshire and had been living with her grandparents on the island for the summer holidays.

The island gets hundreds of tourists as visitors every day during the summertime. The police were seen stopping people as they got off the ferry from the island to the mainland asking for any information. The 1970s hotel where the body was discovered is only about 20 minutes away from where she stayed with her grandparents. The house in question had also been cordoned off and one police van was seen parked outside the residence.

The tiny community of just 7,500 was left absolutely shaken by the incident and many have said that there is "hardly any crime" on the island. Many messages on the floral tributes that were left outside the home on Ardberg Road said "Sleep tight little angel" and "Forever in our thoughts".

One resident, who is a close friend of the grandmother and went to the home with the family to lay a bouquet of flowers, said: "The whole of the Island of Bute is in complete shock. Alesha's father Robert is just a brilliant guy and worshipped the ground she walked on. They were happy together. This doesn't happen here. We are a close-knit community and it takes five minutes for the news to spread here. The whole community will stand together, I know that. That is what the island is like."

A neighbor, June McKenzie, said: "We were woken up at 7 am and we were told she was missing, could we look for her? I looked in the garage and workshop and we saw that the search and rescue helicopter was out. I can't believe it. Her poor parents and gran. It's just appalling - somebody that young. The island's just down and will be for some time. Everybody just sticks together."