Relatives of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey have said her death has left a “massive hole in our family” after she was fatally stabbed in a park.
The teenager, from Birchwood in Warrington, Cheshire, was found by members of the public as she lay wounded on a path in Linear Park, Culcheth, at around 3.13pm on Saturday.
Two 15-year-olds, from the local area, remain in custody after being arrested on suspicion of murder, Cheshire Police said.
Brianna was a transgender girl but police said there is no evidence to suggest her murder was a hate crime.
Paying tribute to the teenager, who had a large following on social media site TikTok, her family said in a statement: “Brianna was a much-loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister.
“She was a larger-than-life character who would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless and one of a kind.
“The loss of her young life has left a massive hole in our family, and we know that the teachers and her friends who were involved in her life will feel the same.
“We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support during this extremely difficult time. We would like to thank the police for their support, and witnesses for helping with the investigation.
“The continuation of respect for privacy is greatly appreciated.”
At the scene on Monday, a number of police vans could be seen parked in the surrounding area, with a number of uniformed officers patrolling the park.
Police tape lined a number of footpaths, cordoning off a large section of the area to the public, and police dogs could also be seen at the scene.
The headteacher at Brianna’s school, Birchwood Community High School, said they were “truly devastated” by her death.
In a statement, Emma Mills said: “We are shocked and truly devastated to hear of the death of Brianna.
“This is understandably a very difficult and distressing time for many and we will do our utmost to support our pupils and wider school community.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Mike Evans said police are pursuing several lines of inquiry, and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
He said: “A number of inquiries in relation to this incident are under way and we are doing all that we can to establish the exact circumstances of what has happened.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that the circumstances surrounding Brianna’s death are hate-related.
A number of schoolchildren, still in their school uniforms, came to lay flowers at the police cordon at the entrance to the park.
Student Jordan Clayton, 19, who had met Brianna and knew her friends, also placed a bunch of roses at the scene.
He said: “I just felt really bad for her. I knew her, mates of mine that knew her, from school.
“All of them have been putting tributes on their stories on Instagram and TikTok and stuff and the GoFundMe page has raised over £17,000.
“I just felt really guilty, felt really bad for her, it must be horrible for her family. I can’t imagine losing a daughter.
His mother, Sandra Clayton, from Padgate, Warrington, added: “To think what she must have been going through, those last… it’s horrible, knife crime, nothing like that should be happening now. It’s going on too much, isn’t it?
“Just hopefully (they will) find out who has done it and what the reasons were behind it.”
Anyone with information can contact Cheshire Police on 101 or online, quoting the reference IML 1476832.
Information can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.