The body of a murdered student midwife “wasn’t missed” during a previous search of the area in which she was found, police say.
Human remains found in woodland in Stevenage by members of the public were confirmed to be Joy Morgan on Thursday.
Ms Morgan, 20, was murdered by Shohfah-El Israel but her body was not found until this week.
Police said although they “were quite close to the area, that was an area that hadn’t been searched”.
Ms Morgan, who lived in Hatfield where she was studying at the University of Hertfordshire, was last seen on Boxing Day at a church event in Ilford.
She was reported missing on 7 February after failing to return to her studies.
Israel, 40, from London, a fellow worshipper at the Israel United In Christ church, was found guilty of her murder in August and given a life sentence. He never revealed where her body was.
Officers were called to reports of a suspected human body found at Chadwell Road, Norton Green, about 40 miles away from where Ms Morgan was last seen, early on Saturday. Police had previously carried out extensive searches in the area.
Det Insp Justine Jenkins said that due to the location, they “had that sinking feeling straight away” it was her.
“It wasn’t missed, we did search close to the area but we also searched a number of other areas in Stevenage as well.
“It’s not an exact science, because he [Israel] never said [where she was], we were working on snippets of information that we had from movements of his vehicle and telephones, etc.
“You do have to have parameters, you can’t search the whole of Stevenage, although we were quite close to the area, that was an area that hadn’t been searched.”
A post-mortem examination could not establish a cause of death and further tests will be carried out.
Ms Jenkins said while the cause was “obviously important for the family” it would have “no further implications” for her killer.
“Joy’s mum Carol was just pleading to get her daughter back so she could say goodbye properly… so she’s very sad but she’s also happy that she’s got that final piece of the jigsaw really,” she said.