The student, whose body was found in Orrell Water Park, Wigan, died from multiple wounds to the neck in a “brutal attack” say detectives. Ellen’s family reported her missing when she failed to return home and the body was found on the edge of a field at 2.30am yesterday after officers searched through the night.

Detectives have not ruled out a sexual ­motive and are unsure how many people may have been involved in the attack. They are also probing claims that two other women were followed at the park by two men last Thursday.

Ellen’s pals launched an appeal on Twitter and Facebook to try to find her when she disappeared after leaving nearby Winstanley College. Friend Lois Robinson wrote before the body was found: “Her friends and family are very worried. If you have any info please let us know.” After the grim discovery, the college tweeted: “Winstanley College students please stay safe when walking to and from college, don’t go alone especially around Orrell Water Park.”