The family of Brianna Ghey has paid tribute to their “much-loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister”.
The 16-year-old, from Birchwood in Warrington, Cheshire, was found by members of the public as she lay wounded on a path in Linear Park, Culcheth, at around 3.13pm on Saturday.
In a statement, her family said: “She was a larger-than-life character who would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty, and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless, and one of a kind.
“The loss of her young life has left a massive hole in our family, and we know that the teachers and her friends who were involved in her life will feel the same.
“We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support during this extremely difficult time.”
Brianna was transgender, but police said there is no evidence to suggest her death was a hate crime.
A boy and a girl from the local area, both 15, have been arrested on suspicion of her murder.
At the scene on Monday, police vans could be seen parked in the surrounding area, with a number of uniformed officers patrolling the park.
Police tape lined a number of footpaths, cordoning off a large section of the park, and police dogs were also at the scene.
Flowers were also being left nearby, with messages including “Fly high angel”.
Brianna’s school ‘shocked and devastated’
Emma Mills, headteacher at Brianna’s school Birchwood Community High School, said: “We are shocked and truly devastated to hear of the death of Brianna.
“This is understandably a very difficult and distressing time for many, and we will do our utmost to support our pupils and wider school community.”
Damian Harry, whose daughters knew Brianna, said they were in “disbelief” and had been left “needing to take painkillers for stress”.
He added: “Brianna was just a beautiful young girl, quite active on social media like my daughters – they were just in each other’s worlds.”
Mermaids, a charity which supports trans and gender diverse children, young people and families said: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of Brianna Ghey, a trans teenager who was murdered in Cheshire this weekend.”
Police pursuing ‘number of inquiries’
Detective Chief Superintendent Mike Evans said police are pursuing several lines of inquiry, and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
He said: “A number of inquiries in relation to this incident are under way, and we are doing all that we can to establish the exact circumstances of what has happened.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that the circumstances surrounding Brianna’s death are hate-related.
“Patrols have been stepped up in the local area and officers will remain in the Culcheth area to provide reassurance and address any concerns that residents may have.”
He added that he would urge anyone with any information “no matter how big or small” to contact police and that they were keen to check any dashcam or CCTV footage from the area.