THE detective in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of Dudley teenager Natalie Putt said police believe she was murdered an inquest has heard.

The inquest opened on November 28 at Black Country Coroner’s Court 15 years after her disappearance from her home in Gornal.

The 17-year-old disappeared after leaving her family home in Thornleigh to visit the local shops on September 1 2003.

Natalie, who was mother to 11-week-old Rhys, went out without her phone and money and has not been seen since. Her body has never been found.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Iliffe told the inquest: “Based on all the information we have, the fact she was 17 years old with a child and there was no reason for her to go missing, the conclusion that we reach on the balance of probabilities, is she was subjected to murder.”

He explained that the investigation has led police all over the UK to investigate whether Natalie is still alive, but has not been able to trace the mother of one.

Coroner Zafar Siddique told the court that his office had received a request from West Midlands Police earlier this year to hold an inquest in order to ascertain what happened to Natalie.

Mr Siddique had to apply to the Chief Coroner to be granted special permission to reopen the inquest, due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding Natalie’s death as her body has never been found.

He adjourned the inquest until January 2019 and paid his condolences to Miss Putt’s family who were in attendance.

He added: “It’s difficult to piece together everything but let’s see where we get to.”