The death of student Libby Squire is being treated as a ‘potential homicide’, police said today.
Humberside Police found the 21-year-old’s body in the Humber Estuary earlier this week following a six-week search after her disappearance during a night out with friends in February.
The force confirmed today it is now ‘solely investigating’ her death as a possible murder and have stopped probing other causes.
A post mortem took place last night but police are not releasing the results due to ‘operational reasons’.
The University of Hull student, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, had not been seen since the early hours of February 1. She had been on a night out in Hull but is believed to have been refused entry to a nightclub and put in a taxi by her friends.
Humberside Police believe she may have ‘come to harm’ and a 24-year-old man suspecting of abducting her has been charged with a number of unrelated offences.
Officers confirmed that Polish butcher Pawel Relowicz, from Hull, was still under investigation, although he has never been charged in relation to her disappearance.
Mourners have left floral tributes in her memory today at a bench in Beverley Road, Hull, where she was last seen in February.
University of Hull student Libby Squire, 21, who is originally from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, was last seen in the early hours of February 1 this year. Police have confirmed they are treating her death as a ‘potential homicide’
Mourners have been coming to the bench in Beverley Road, Hull, throughout the morning to pay their respects to the student
Floral tributes have been left in her memory on a bench where she was last seen in Hull
Messages of love and support for Libby and her family have been left alongside flowers
Her body was pulled out of the Humber Estuary on Wednesday and tests last night confirmed it was Libby. Pictured are police at the scene on Wednesday
Libby Squire has not been seen since the early hours of February 1. A timeline shows how the police investigation has progressed since her disappearance. On Wednesday a body was recovered from the Humber Estuary near Grimsby docks
In a statement, Detective Superintendent Martin Smalley said: ‘Our thoughts remain today with Libby’s family and friends at this incredibly sad and devastating time for them.
‘The loss of a loved one is always an upsetting and traumatic experience to go through, but the circumstances surrounding Libby’s death will only intensify the heartache for her family.
‘Specially trained officers continue in supporting Libby’s family and we will do all we can to provide further support and assistance to them in any way we are able to.
‘The University of Hull have also created a space for tributes to Libby, which is open to both students and the community to attend and remember Libby and offer any messages of condolence.
‘In regards to our investigation, while we have considered throughout the missing person inquiry that Libby may have come to some harm, Libby’s death and the recovery of her body now leads us to solely investigate as a potential homicide.
‘The post-mortem examination concluded late last night and at this stage, we will not be releasing any results for investigative and operational reasons.
‘We have to protect the integrity of the investigation, which is live and very much active and ongoing, with one man who remains under investigation.
‘An inquest into Libby’s death will be opened on Monday afternoon (25 March) at Hull Coroner’s Court at 1pm.
‘Libby captured the hearts of not just the people in Hull, but across the country, and as I have said before, the support shown has been overwhelming and my sincerest thanks to absolutely everyone who has been involved.’
Tributes have poured in for Libby today from staff and students at the University of Hull, with the students’ union saying everyone is ‘devastated’ by her death.
The vice chancellor and union president said extra measures have been put in place to support students trying to cope with the news and more safety measures have been put in place, including organising students who want to walk in groups or with security staff, if requested.
Union president Osaro Otobo said: ‘The student community are absolutely devastated by this news but now we want to pull together and support each other to make sure we’re all during this time.’
The bench in Beverley Road, Hull, pictured, is now covered in bouquets and has become something of a shrine in her memory
Last week, Libby’s mother Lisa (pictured right with her daughter) said the family were ‘really struggling’ without their daughter and ‘miss her beyond belief’. The student’s body was yesterday found in waters near Grimsby Docks
Ms Otobo was speaking with vice-chancellor Susan Lea in front of floral tributes which have been laid in memory of Ms Squire around a tree on the campus.
She said: ‘The student body would like to pay their respects to Libby and her family. So, as a students’ union, we have a Remembrance Tree on our ground floor where students can write a note for Libby and her family which will be passed on to them.
‘They just want to show their respects. You can see from the tree, all of the flowers and the tributes.
‘That’s what want to do just show how much we care.’
Asked whether students were worried about their own security, Ms Otobo said: ‘There’ll be some concerns about safety but I want to highlight that this is such a rare occurrence, so now, as a students’ union, we highlight all the measures that you can take to be safe on a night out, including how to prepare your journey, make sure you book a taxi on a night out.’
Professor Lea said: ‘It has been a difficult time. Students and staff are devastated by the situation and way it has unfolded. But I think we’ve pulled together as a community.
‘This a really close-knit community and we’ve been really heartened and moved by the way in which staff and students, the local community and the police have come together at a difficult time both in the search for Libby but, also, to support one another.’
She said safety was an ‘absolute priority’ for staff and students.
‘We are absolutely committed to providing all the support we can to our staff and our students,’ the professor said.
‘We are doing that in a variety of ways and I have an extremely strong team leading that.
‘So we have extra assistance available to our students through advisers.
Russell and Lisa Squire, the parents of missing student Libby Squire, made an emotional appeal for information in helping to find her soon after she went missing
‘But we also have schemes available so security will walk with them if they would like somebody to walk with them. And students have got together to form groups so they can walk in pairs.
‘So there’s a variety of initiatives to provide that support.’
Prof Lea also said mental health support for students had been ‘augmented’.
Revealing the tragic news yesterday evening, Detective Superintendent Martin Smalley said: ‘A post-mortem examination commenced this afternoon and is continuing to be carried out this evening.
‘However formal identification has now taken place and we can confirm the body recovered is that of missing woman Libby Squire. Libby’s family have been informed and are receiving support from specially trained officers.’
Speaking last night, Professor Susan Lea, vice-chancellor at the University of Hull, where Libby was a student, said: ‘As a close-knit University community of staff and students, we are all absolutely devastated by the loss of our student, Libby Squire.
‘Our hearts go out to Libby’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time and we will continue to give them our full support.’
She added: ‘We will keep doing everything we can to support our staff and students as they adjust to this shocking and tragic news and we will continue to support the police fully with their investigation.’
Police were on Tuesday seen combing Oak Road playing fields in Hull as part of an ‘ongoing investigation’. Oak Road playing fields have been at the centre of the search for missing Libby in recent weeks
Hull Community Church also last night changed its profile picture on Facebook to one paying tribute to Miss Squire.
With a post on the page reading: ‘We are devastated at the news of Libby Squire. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family at this horrendous time.
‘We have taken Libby to our hearts, and she will never be forgotten by us here in Hull.
‘We have laid white tulips for Libby on the bench where she was last seen – only to find that others have come too to pour out their grief and send messages of love.’
Miss Squire was dropped off near her house at 11.29pm on February 1 and was last seen walking in a nearby road at 12.05am wearing a black skirt, black leather jacket and distinctive trainers.
CCTV captured her walking towards the nightclub earlier in the evening, with cameras also capturing her on a bench near her home.
On Wednesday, Humberside Police revealed that a body had been recovered from the Humber Estuary, in close proximity to Grimsby Docks.
The RNLI launched from Cleethorpes at about 2.30pm and brought the body to the quayside, where there was a large police presence.
A spokesman for the RNLI said at the time: ‘Lifeboat crews from the RNLI’s Humber and Cleethorpes stations launched at 2.30pm this afternoon to a report of a casualty in the water.’
Officers were seen raking long grass in a wooded area in Oak Road Playing Fields in Hull soon after her disappearance, 500 yards from where the university student was last seen on CCTV
In the days after her disappearance, officers from the police regional marine unit searched a pond at Oak Road Playing Fields, near to Miss Squire’s home
Officers cordoned off an area of the dock and a blue tarpaulin could be seen alongside the boat, covering something on the ground.
A number of uniformed officers could be seen and what appeared to be detectives.
Police have been engaged in a desperate search for the 21-year-old ever since she went missing earlier this year.
Also still missing are two men who tragically jumped from the Humber Bridge within minutes of each other in the early hours of December 29.
Sam Conlin, 24, from Hull, is believed to have taken his own life after an eight year battle with his mental health. The second man, believed to be in his 40s from Grimsby, was not named by police at the time.
Moments prior to Miss Squire’s disappearance she was spotted on a security camera near a bench on Beverley Road, where a motorist stopped to offer her help.
And a woman living in a street close to Miss Squire’s home later said she heard a scream which she said ‘sounded like someone being attacked’.
The woman said the ‘nature’ of the noise – heard in the early hours – had shocked her as ‘they don’t normally get women screaming like that’ on her street.
A video released by the Squire family shows Libby dancing and singing in the passenger seat of a car
One of the people featured in Humberside Police’s CCTV footage of four witnesses, who they believe ‘may have seen or heard something that could be vital’
The four people who feature in the CCTV footage from February 1 in Hull are circled above
The woman said the area was filled with mainly students who were often loud at night.
Police also revealed at the time that they had found Miss Squire’s mobile phone at her home but that it had not helped to provide any information about where she went the night she went missing.
Police were on Tuesday seen combing Oak Road playing fields in Hull as part of an ‘ongoing investigation’.
Timeline of Libby Squire disappearance
January 31: Ms Squire is dropped off in a taxi near her home on Wellesley Avenue at 11.29pm and is seen 10 minutes later on CCTV near a bench on Beverley Road, where a motorist stopped to offer her help.
February 1: She is believed to have remained in the area until about 12.09am. She is reported missing and officers begin an intensive search for the student.
February 5: Around 200 students and staff gather in the rain at the University of Hull to show solidarity and support for Ms Squire, her family and friends.
February 6: Pawel Relowicz, 24, is arrested at an address in Raglan Street in Hull on suspicion of abducting Ms Squire.
Earlier in the day, her parents Lisa and Russ issue a statement thanking the public for their help and say they have been ‘overwhelmed with people’s kindness and support’.
February 7: Officers take to the streets around where Ms Squire was last seen a week earlier to hand out leaflets and drive around a large screen displaying images of the student, as the search continues.
February 11: Relowicz, of Raglan Street, Hull, appears at Hull Magistrates’ Court accused of voyeurism, outraging public decency and burglary – charges unrelated to the disappearance of Miss Squire.
He remains under investigation following his earlier arrest on suspicion of abduction.
February 28: Police admit it is increasingly likely Ms Squire ‘has come to harm’.
Detective Superintendent Martin Smalley, leading the investigation, says his team has followed up hundreds of leads and carried out intensive searches yet her disappearance remains ‘unexplained’, adding: ‘We must increasingly consider she has come to harm.’
March 7: Relowicz appears in court charged with seven further unrelated offences, including two counts of burglary, two counts of voyeurism, two counts of outraging public decency and one of receiving stolen goods in connection with seven alleged incidents committed between 2017 and 2019 in Hull.
March 20: Humberside Police say a body has been recovered from the water in the Humber Estuary but add that it is too early for any identification or confirmation of gender to be made.
March 21: Humberside Police say a post-mortem examination has confirmed that the body recovered is that of Ms Squire, and her family has been informed.
Oak Road playing fields have been at the centre of the search for missing Libby in recent weeks.
And police divers have searched the lake in Oak Road , which is near to the home of the missing 21-year-old student.
Last week Libby’s family released a new video of her singing in the car with her family as they struggle to cope without her six weeks on.
Her mother Lisa said the family are ‘really struggling’ without their daughter and ‘miss her beyond belief’.
She said: ‘As a family, we are really struggling. The whole family miss Libby beyond belief.
‘Libby’s disappearance is having a big effect on all of us. Please if you have any information let the police know.’
The video shows Libby singing with her brother and two sisters who are out of view of the camera.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Martin Smalley added at the time: ‘For the past six weeks the amount of support from the people of Hull, the region and around the UK has been staggering.
‘I want to thank everyone for their assistance and to everyone who has come forward with information to help us with our investigation so far.
‘We continue to search for Libby. Hundreds of officers have been involved both on land and in the water and we have followed up hundreds of leads and lines of enquiry.
‘Libby’s disappearance remains unexplained and while we remain hopeful, we must consider she has come to harm.
‘Last month we released CCTV footage showing four people on Oak Road in Hull close to the junction with Clough Road around the time that Libby was last seen.
‘We want to speak with them as they may be possible witnesses and might hold important information’.
Libby’s family had previously said that the student’s disappearance was ‘very out-of-character’ and that she is a ‘very thoughtful and caring young woman who puts others before herself’.
Soon after she went missing around 200 students from across Hull gathered at an event held in her honour, which was also attended by Libby’s parents, Lisa and Russell Squire, who joined students and members of the local community.
University staff and students braved the wet weather and walked more than 100m from the library to the Canham Turner building as part of a solidarity march.
At the time, Vice chancellor professor Susan Lea told those in attendance: ‘We come together this evening to express our deep concern about Libby.
‘Libby is a Philosphy student here at the university of Hull and one of our community.
‘I have to say we have been deeply moved by the way in which both our students and local community have come together in support of one another and to help to try and find Libby.
‘This event this evening is part of that support and solidarity to show support and solidarity for Libby, for Libby’s parents, for Libby’s friends, for Libby’s family and indeed for one another.’
Photographs released by Miss Squire’s family show her at home on Christmas Day last year (left) and in Paris in May 2017 (right) when she visited with friends during a gap year
A map traces Libby’s last known movements before she disappeared six weeks ago
Relowicz was arrested on suspicion of abduction after Libby Squire vanished more than a month ago, and remains under investigation.
But the 24-year-old Polish national has never been charged with anything in relation to the University of Hull student’s disappearance.
Appearing at Hull Crown Court on Monday, he denied five counts of burglary, three of voyeurism, three of outraging public decency and one of receiving stolen goods.
He spoke only through an interpreter to confirm his name and enter his not guilty pleas during the 15-minute plea and trial preparation hearing.
Polish butcher Pawel Relowicz, 24, of Hull, remains under investigation after being arrested in connection with Libby’s disappearance