A criminal investigation has been launched after the body of a missing Brit backpacker was found, with officials working to determine “who could be involved in this deplorable incident”.
The body of Catherine Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire, was found after days of searching, The Lucie Blackman Trust said this evening.
Catherine had been reported missing in Guatemala on March 5 and was last seen by a friend the day before.
Tonight, the charity working with her family confirmed a body found in the search was Catherine Shaw.
An Interior Ministry official in the Central American country said police had designated a team to carry out a “criminal investigation” to see “who could be involved in this deplorable incident.”
There was no immediate confirmation investigators were sure any foul play had occurred.
The trust said Catherine had left the Eco Hotel in Mayachik, near San Pedro and San Juan, on March 5 at 1.37am, but then returned at 3.19am.
She then left again for the last time at 5.23am, heading in the direction of the lake.
Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said Catherine’s body had been found near a mountain on the northwest corner of Lake Atitlan known as Nariz del Indio, which in English translates as Indian Nose.
The hike from San Juan La Laguna where the Brit backpacker was staying is popular with travellers who want to see the sunrise.
Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said in a statement: “After several days of intense searching by police authorities, other institutions and volunteers for the missing British national, participating teams are being coordinated at the scene where her body has been found.
“After 120 hours of an exhaustive search, the result is very regrettable and the Interior Ministry and police chiefs have immediately designated a team which will carry out the criminal investigation.
“This is to determine what has happened and who could be involved in this deplorable incident.
“According to the police, the missing British national’s body was discovered in a mountainous area known as the Nariz del Indio.”
The mountain near to where Catherine was found is nearly 9,400 feet above sea level.
The peak of the mountain is the tip of the Indian nose and was considered by the Mayans, who would pray and conduct religious services at the top.
Local guides offer trips which include watching the sunrise with a coffee.
Hikers are advised to wear decent footwear and take water and snacks.
One recent visitor wrote online: “I’ve seen plenty of amazing sunrises in my life, but this one was really breathtaking.
“The incredible landscape around lake Atitlan really provide amazing reflections and views of the volcanic landscape.”
Catherine had been travelling since September last year and had previously visited Mexico and California.
She was last seen on March 4 in the eco-hotel.
The Lucie Blackman Trust said in a statement this evening: “We are saddened to announce that a body has been found in the search for Catherine Shaw.
“Formal ID has not taken place but it is believed to be Catherine.
“Catherine’s family have been informed. Please respect their privacy at this time.”
The trust then said: “We are now able to confirm that the body found in the search in Guatemala is that of missing Catherine Shaw.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped in the search.
“Our thoughts are with Catherine’s family, who we will continue to support as they need.”
Earlier today it was confirmed a jacket found at San Juan La Laguna had been positively identified as Catherine’s.
It also emerged that when Catherine left the eco hotel she had a puppy with her but no other possessions.
The puppy was recovered alone, “shivering at the highest lookout of Indian Nose, a volcano overlooking Lake Atitlan, San Pedro and San Juan” early on Friday morning, the Trust said.
The Lucie Blackman Trust has been liaising closely with Thames Valley Police .
Mirror Online has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.