A charity has criticised speculation that a young British backpacker was raped and murdered in Guatemala, saying her death is believed to have been a “tragic accident”.
Catherine Shaw went missing in the Central American country after taking a puppy for a walk in the early hours of 5 March.
A major search was launched for the 23-year-old from Witney, near Oxford, before her body was discovered on Monday.
The Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been supporting Ms Shaw’s family, said it believed “foul play was probably not involved and that Catherine’s death was a tragic accident”.
The trust criticised speculation on social media suggesting Ms Shaw was “raped and murdered by a mystery assailant when such facts are not evident”.
It said “intense speculation” on the cause of her death, along with the appearance of photographs of Ms Shaw’s body, had “compounded” the family’s grief and the trust was working to remove the content.
Matthew Searle, chief executive of the Lucie Blackman Trust, said: “We know that Catherine had been fasting for the days leading to her disappearance and that she had been disposing of possessions, including clothing.
“She was very much a nature lover and adored sunrises, so it seems quite conceivable that she went up the mountain to greet the sunrise, shedding clothing as she went, and due to her lack of intake of food and fluid may have passed out or fallen, causing the wounds to her body.
“Whilst of course at this stage we do not know the full facts, and cannot rule anything out until we do, it is wrong to assume and of course confirm that she was raped and murdered by a mystery assailant when such facts are not evident.
“Facebook posts analysing photographs of poor Catherine’s body are totally unacceptable.”
Paying tribute to their daughter, Ms Shaw’s parents Ann and Tarquin said Ms Shaw “just loved mountains and sunrises” and “she died doing what she loved”.
They also thanked her friends, search teams and volunteers for their efforts in trying to find Ms Shaw.
“We wish it to be known how grateful our family are for the huge response locally and across the world in our search for Catherine and for the vast amount of messages of support,” they said in a statement.
“Thank you seems insufficient but it is very heartfelt, so thank you.”
Ms Shaw had been staying in the Lake Atitlan area of Guatemala with a friend at the time of her disappearance.
She had left the Eco Hotel in Mayachik with a puppy shortly before 5.30am on 5 March.
The animal was found alive “shivering and crying” on Friday morning at the highest lookout of Indian Nose, a volcano overlooking Lake Atitlan.
A major search involving drones, a helicopter and a dive team was launched in effort to find Ms Shaw.
Her jacket was found on a mountain trail, reportedly about two miles from where Ms Shaw was last seen.
Her body was then discovered at the top of El Naudiz in San Juan La Laguna, according to the Facebook appeal page.