A WOMAN who was found dead near Upton Fire Station has been described as “popular and friendly” by her former school’s headteacher.

Police officers were spotted yesterday morning carrying out a fingertip search around where Sarah Hopkins’ body was found in Causeway Lane, sometime after 8am on Saturday.

A 44-year-old man arrested shortly after on suspicion of murder was released on bail yesterday evening, with detectives having been previously granted extra time to question him.

The Hanley Castle High School headteacher Lindsey Cooke said the school community was “devastated” that the former student had died “in such tragic circumstances”.

“Our hearts go out to her family and friends at this most difficult of times,” she continued.

“Sarah was a popular and friendly student who is remembered fondly by her teachers and classmates. “The school stands ready to provide whatever support it can to all those affected in the coming days and weeks,” added Mrs Cooke.

On Friday evening, Miss Hopkins had tagged herself at the town’s Drum and Monkey pub on Facebook with the comment: “Caz and Gordy cheering me up after a s*** week, I have the best friends.”

Worcester News understands these were work colleagues Caz Powell and Gordon Adam, with the trio all apparently employed by Permadoor in nearby Station Road Industrial Estate.

At around 11am on Saturday morning, Amy Hardman posted on Facebook’s Upton Parish Notice Board that her cousin Sarah Hopkins “hasn’t come home last night” and that she was last seen at 11.45pm “outside the Chinese in Upton”.

“She was wearing a: yellow coat, with a band top on and either black or blue jeans with [Doc Martens] on.”

Miss Hardman added: “No one can get hold of her and I was wondering if anyone saw her. She would’ve been walking back to the Rectory Road.”

On Sunday, West Mercia Police appealed for witnesses with Detective Inspector Jim Bayliss having previously described enquiries “very much in their early stages”.

Holly Barrett was one of many friends of Miss Hopkins who took to social media to pay their respects, posting a photo of the pair and thanking her for “stopping by and bringing so much joy in life”.