Milly Dowler: A timeline of the investigation

Levi Bellfield has finally admitted killing Milly Dowler more than a decade after the 13-year-old disappeared.

Here's a look back at the key events which led to his conviction and his prison confession.

March 21, 2002 - Milly vanishes in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey. She is last seen by a friend of her sister Gemma at around 4pm shortly after phoning her dad to say she would be home in half an hour.

March 24, 2002 - After reporting her missing at 7pm the night she disappeared, Milly's parents Bob and Sally appeal for help in finding their daughter.

April 3, 2002 - Milly's parents make a renewed appeal to find their daughter.

Milly's parents Sally and Bob Dowler. Credit: PA

September 18, 2002 - Milly's decomposed body is found by mushroom pickers in Yateley Woods, Hampshire, around 25 miles from her home.

March 2003 - Police offer a £50,000 reward for any information which will lead them to Milly's killer.

November 2004 - Levi Bellfield, who lived 50 yards from where Milly vanished, is arrested by Met Police for other crimes.

April 2005 - Police appeal for information about a red Daewoo Nexia car spotted on CCTV close to where Milly was last seen.

CCTV of the red Daewoo police wanted to trace.

February 2008 - Levi Bellfield is convicted of the murders of Marsha McDonnell, 19, and Amelie Delagrange, 22, who were both battered at bus stops, and sentenced to life in prison.

He is also convicted of the attempted murder of 18-year-old Kate Sheedy, who was mown down by a car driven by Bellfield, but survived.

August 2009 - After new evidence comes to light, a dossier of evidence is passed to the Crown Prosecution Service naming Bellfield as the primary suspect in Milly's murder.

March 2010 - Bellfield is charged with killing Milly.

Levi Bellfield was charged with Milly's murder in 2010 when he was already serving two life sentences. Credit: PA

May 2011 - Bellfield goes on trial at the Old Bailey for Milly's murder and denies abducting and killing the teenager.

June 2011 - The triple killer yawns in the dock as he is found guilty of Milly's murder. The following day he refuses to attend court where he is jailed for life.

He becomes the first person in Britain to receive two whole-life terms which means he will die behind bars.

February 2012 - Bellfield loses a Court of Appeal bid to challenge his conviction for Milly's kidnap and murder.

Milly's parents Bob and Sally and sister Gemma (centre) after Bellfield was found guilty of her murder. Credit: PA

April 2014 - Bellfield receives a £4,500 payout after being attacked by a fellow prisoner in Wakefield Prison in 2009.

The Ministry of Justice says it is ''hugely disappointed'' by the Durham County Court judge's decision.

January 27, 2016 - Bellfield admits abducting, raping and killing schoolgirl Milly Dowler for the first time, Surrey Police say.

The prison confession came as detectives were investigating whether Bellfield had an accomplice.