Murdered teenager found in back of car after 'staged crash' had 'arranged to meet an older man'
A teenage girl was killed and her body discovered in the back of a car following a road accident which may have been staged to cover evidence of the crime.
Police launched a murder inquiry after the body of 16-year-old Megan Bannister was found in the back of the car at the scene of the accident in Leicestershire, on Sunday.
A post-mortem established that Megan had been killed before the accident, which police believe may have been deliberately staged.
A friend of the teenager revealed that Megan had told her parents she was going to a friend for a sleepover, but instead arranged to meet an older man.
Megan had reportedly met the man the previous weekend and had been due to meet him again on Saturday.
The friend, from Leicester, said: "She met a man at the weekend and she was due to go and see him again on Saturday night. She was really excited about it and had told her parents she was going to stay at a friend’s house."
Two men, aged 27 and 28, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. They were on Tuesday named locally as Jason Burder and Adam King.
Police raided Jason's family home in Braunstone, Leicester, on Tuesday an officer was still standing guard at the property, where forensics officers have carried out an extensive search.
Detectives are investigating whether Megan, who was about to take her GCSEs, was previously known to the two men.
Megan’s body was found following the crash between a black Vauxhall Astra and a motorbike in Desford Road, Enderby, at about 11:45am on Sunday.
An initial post-mortem proved inconclusive and further tests are being carried out to determine how she died. But police said the post-mortem had established that her injuries were not consistent with a car crash.
Police are understood to be examining the possibility the accident was deliberately staged in an attempt to cover up Megan's killing.
Megan’s parents Tony and Carol Bannister and her six siblings paid tribute to their “beautiful, talented, loving daughter and sister”.
In a statement they said: “Our hearts have been utterly broken by her death. The thought of life without Megan is impossible to imagine, and we cannot adequately express in words the sense of numbness and overwhelming grief we feel at her loss.
"She was bright, clever, and a responsible person who loved her family and her many friends.”
The family's statement added: "She had a strong self-will and had set her heart on training to becoming a midwife.
"Knowing how confident and determined she was, we have no doubt she would have realised that dream."
Megan, whose ambition was to become a midwife, had been due to take her first GCSE exam on this week.
In a statement her school, Wigston College, said: "The whole college community has been devastated by the news of Megan’s death. Megan was funny, friendly and good.
"She was popular and had a wide range of friends: she liked people and they liked her and this is how we will remember her."
The statement added that if Megan had become a midwife, "She’d have been brilliant at it."
In her last posting on Twitter, written on March 4, Megan, from Leicester, expressed her anger at being taken "for a mug".
She wrote: "Another person to take me for a mug."
In an earlier one, written in January, she wrote excitedly about looking forward to going out with her friends, but the teenager had also Tweeted about the emotional turmoil of her life.
In October she wrote: "My life is so emotionally unstable like stop."
Her sister Kirsten Leigh Bannister (25) posted a moving series of photographs of Megan on her Facebook page, including one showing both of them at a cancer charity run.
At the same time Megan's mother Carol (49) posted a photograph of her daughter when she was younger decorating a cake.
Leicestershire Police said: "An initial post-mortem examination was inconclusive and further tests are being conducted to find out exactly how Megan died. However, her death is not believed to have been the result of a road traffic collision.
"Two men from Leicester, aged 27 and 28 have been arrested on suspicion of murder and are in custody, where they are being questioned by detectives."
The rider of the motorbike suffered serious injuries and was taken to Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.
A female pillion passenger also suffered minor injuries and received treatment at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
A bunch of yellow flowers with a tribute to Megan was left at the scene of the crash.
The message reads: "I am so sorry we could not save you. My heart is broken. But you are in a safe place now. RIP little angel."