Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry
Human remains found in a woodland in Ashford, Kent, are those of Sarah Everard, police have confirmed.
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave made the announcement at a press conference outside Scotland Yard on Friday afternoon.
He said: “As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.
“The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken.
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed Sarah Everard's death
“I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah Everard.”
He said Ms Everard’s family had been told this “most distressing news”.
The 33-year-old marketing executive had been missing since March 3 and was last seen walking home from a friend's house near Clapham Common in south London.
Her body was found in Ashford, Kent, late on Wednesday, and it has now been formally identified.
A serving Metropolitan Police officer in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of her murder on Wednesday. He remains in custody, AC Ephgrave said.
The assistant commissioner said his “thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation” remain with Sarah Everard’s family “at this awful time”.
He added: “Specialist officers remain in constant contact with Sarah’s family, and will continue to support them throughout the investigation and beyond.
“That investigation continues at a pace and we have hundreds of officers working round the clock to establish the full circumstances of Sarah’s disappearance, and her murder.”
Ms Everard's family have paid tribute to their "beautiful daughter and sister", and urged anyone with information to help police with their investigation.
In a previous statement, they said: “Our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.
“Sarah was bright and beautiful - a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.
“She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.
“We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah’s friends who are working tirelessly to help.
“We are so grateful to the police and would like to thank them for all they are doing. We are now pleading for additional help from the public.
“Please come forward and speak to the police if you have any information. No piece of information is too insignificant. Thank you.”
Boris Johnson has said he can "totally understand" why the death of Sarah Everard has triggered a "wave of feeling" on the issue of women’s safety.
The Prime Minister told reporters at Queen’s University Belfast: “Like everybody, I’m shocked and appalled about the news from the Met about Sarah Everard.
"I think that the whole country will be united in their feeling for her friends, her family and will share their shock and their grief.
"I can see, and I totally understand, why this has triggered such a wave of feeling on this issue – on the issue of safety of women and safety of the streets.
"And I want to echo very much what Priti Patel said, which is that no woman should walk our streets in fear – every woman should feel able to walk our streets in safety."
Fulford School in York, which Ms Everard was a pupil at until 2005, released a statement: "Her kindness, care and humanity benefited all who knew her. She spent her days with teachers and friends learning, questioning and developing into the lovely young woman we hear about and some of us were lucky enough to know.
"Her disappearance is truly awful. The last few days have unfolded to devastating effect to her family and friends.
"As a wider society, it rightly asks us to address the fact that women and girls around the country are left open to harassment and threats of violence whilst simply going about their everyday life."
Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University, also reacted to Ms Everard's death: “We are devastated by the news confirming Sarah’s death. Sarah was a popular and lively member of our university community and retained a large Durham University friendship group. Our thoughts remain with her family and friends at this extremely difficult time."
Social media users, including politicians and celebrities, have paid tribute to the 33-year-old.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “It is devastating news for Sarah Everard’s loved ones that the police have identified her body.
“My deepest sympathies – and those of all Londoners – are with them.”
British rapper Yungen tweeted: "RIP Sarah Everard. No woman should ever be vulnerable walking home at no time of the day or night. Heartbreaking. Thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones."
Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana said: "I'm heartbroken. My love and prayers go to her loved ones. I can't imagine the pain they are going through."But I'm angry too. Male violence against women has to end. We need political, social and cultural change."
Northern Ireland politician Nichola Mallon, a member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, reacted: "My thoughts are with all of Sarah Everard's family & friends. Whoever did this needs brought to justice & we need an honest conversation about the type of society we have created where, for so many women, feeling unsafe is an every day occurance."
British actor Nicholas Pinnock tweeted: "... Men. We need to do better. We need to BE, better. We need to call each other out when one of us isn’t making a woman feel safe. These women could be our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces. Unfortunately, one of these woman was #SarahEverard. R.I.P. Sarah."
The diplomatic protection police officer who was arrested in connection to Ms Everard's death was taken to hospital for a head injury he sustained while alone in his cell on Thursday. He has since been treated for his wounds and returned to a police station, police confirmed.
A woman aged in her 30s was also arrested and has been released on bail to return to a police station in mid-April.
A forensics team was searching an area of land outside the back fence of the arrested officer's house in Deal, Kent, on Friday, while uniformed officers were posted at a derelict garage in Dover, which was run by his family.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), a watchdog body, has launched a separate investigation into whether the Met Police "responded appropriately" to an allegation of indecent exposure made against the officer arrested in connection to Ms Everard's death.
Ms Everard's disappearance and the arrest of the police officer prompted an outpouring of shock and anger on social media as women across the country share their experiences of feeling unsafe.
#ReclaimTheseStreets began trending on Thursday after it was announced a vigil of the same name would take place at south London's Clapham Common, where Ms Everard is thought to have walked on the night of her disappearance.
But organisers of the planned vigil are battling a decision by Met Police not to permit the event due to coronavirus restrictions.
ITV News Reporter Sangeeta Kandola reports on the latest on the Sarah Everard vigil:
AC Ephgrave said in Friday's press conference: “I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well.
“I also recognise the wider concerns that have been raised, quite rightly, about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.
“I want to say now that this organisation, and the men and women in it, remain committed to protecting Londoners wherever they are in this city.
“And that commitment is undiminished by these events and if anything that commitment is strengthened by these tragic circumstances.”