A BODY found in woodland near a hospital is that of missing newlywed John Ankers, police confirmed.
The 28-year-old disappeared on Sunday, just days after learning he would lose his job at Blockbuster, in Birkenhead.
Family and friends spent days hunting all over Merseyside for the former Formby High School pupil – but the search ended in tragedy on Wednesday morning when a body was discovered in woods near Arrowe Park hospital.
Officers yesterday confirmed John, of Woodchurch, Wirral, had been formally identified and said a post-mortem would be carried out to establish how he died.
Friends took to social networking sites to pay tribute to John, who married wife Trina after eight years together in September.
Sister Sophie Lynch posted a picture of her hugging her brother on her Facebook page, with the message: “I can't believe I’m never going to get this cuddle again, miss you so much John.”
Thomas Lewis posted on Twitter: “Still can’t believe John has gone, money makes this world the horrible place it is now, sleep right mate you'll be missed.”
A tribute posted by Matthew Ball said: “Life is a hard, hard journey with no knowledge of the outcome. Losing loved ones and friends will never get any easier.”
John, a keen Liverpool FC fan, was last seen at about 10.15am on Sunday when he left his mother-in-law’s house in Woodchurch to get the bus to work.
But he never arrived and worried family members reported him missing.
Trina said her husband had been depressed after learning the Blockbuster store where he worked was one of 129 earmarked for closure following the collapse of the DVD rental chain.
The 27-year-old said she hoped he had gone somewhere to clear his head and made emotional appeals for him to get in touch.
Police search teams and friends combed huge areas of woodland and countryside in a bid to find John and the force helicopter was also scrambled.
Yesterday, friend Emma-Louise Coulson, who described John as “the greatest of friends, the most caring of brothers and the most loving husband” during the three-day search for him, posted on her Facebook page: “Sleep tight.
“Trina will never be alone. Heaven has gotten lucky with you mate.”
Friends also left flowers and candles near to where John’s body was found – just minutes away from his home.
Police said a case file will be prepared for Wirral coroner Christopher Johnson after the post-mortem examination is completed.
An inquest is expected to be opened in the coming days.
John’s death is currently being treated as unexplained.