Police Scotland image caption Emma Faulds body was found in Galloway Forest, six weeks after her disappearance
A former prison officer has been convicted of murdering his friend and throwing her naked body in a forest.
Ross Willox, 42, killed Emma Faulds, 39, after a party at his home in Monkton, South Ayrshire, in April 2019.
He iswent to lengths worked out to cover her tracks but Ms Faulds' body was found six weeks later in the forest of Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway.
The discovery followed a massive search of the remote area, which was narrowed down by CCTV and cell phone analysis.
Emma 's family cried when the verdict was delivered at the High Court in Glasgow.
Police Scotland caption of the image Willox will be sentenced next month
Lord Mulholland told Willox that he had committed "a gross crime against a young woman loved by her family ”.
"You would have visited them a lifetime wondering if she was still alive if her body was not found thanks to the remarkable work of police and experts, " a added the judge.
Willox, who denied the murder, will be sentenced next month.
Despite the guilty verdict, it's still unclear why he killed Emma - or how she died.
Scottish police have said nothing in his past to suggest he was capable of such a crime.
Detective Inspector Peter Crombie, of the Force's Main Investigation Team, said : "He would seem, at first glance, to be an ordinary guy who led an ordinary life.
Emma and Willox became friends when they worked together as prison guards at HMP Kilmarnock.
Detectives said the couple, who had a platonic relationship, agreed to meet at their home for a party on Sunday, April 28, 2019.
PA image caption Emma Faulds had gone to Willox's in Monkton on April 28
Emma had told her parents about her plans and told her sister Miriam that she was "going to get a little bit crazy.
At around 8:00 p.m., Emma texted a friend at the house in Willox in Fairfield Park, Monkton, to tell him that she was planning to have a few drinks and stay.
A witness also told the jury that he drove a drug dealer friend to the house after receiving a text from Emma at 11:30 p.m. asking for cocaine.
William Beattie said theThe door had been opened by a tall man wearing a coat, and as he walked away from the house he saw Emma sitting on a sofa.
"I waved and she responded, " he said.
'Knew something was wrong '
Emma was usually in frequent contact with loved ones, and her phone has been described as "an extension of his arm ".
But no one heard from her the next day.
His mother, Margaret, said it was "totally irrelevant ".
"She was in touch every day. My husband and I knew something was wrong.
caption of the image Missing posters were distributed shortly after the disappearance of Ms Faulds
The couple were visiting relatives in Brighton when they sounded the alarm on April 30.
Ms Faulds had previously received a call from Emma's employers at Kibble School in Paisley, Renfrewshire, saying she hadn 't come for work.
"We were at our end of the line and decided to report her because she was so different from her, "her father Ian recounted the trial.
At around 4:30 p.m. that day, police broke into Emma 's apartment on Fullerton Street, Kilmarnock, and discovered that her dog Maverick, who had been heard crying by a neighbor, was home alone.
Friend Nicholas Wyper, told the jury: "Maverick was her baby. Maverick never left himself - never.
As the last person to see her alive, Willox became the immediate focus of the investigation, dubbed Operation Solzen.
copyright of 'image PA Media caption of the image Police and forensic teams from the house in Monkton
Hetold the officers that Emma had decided to drive back to her apartment, which was less than 9 miles away, around 11:00 p.m.
He said he joined her on the trip and later took about a dozen lines of cocaine.
Willox said Emma was "positive and upbeat and having fun. She was talking about her upcoming 40th birthday and talking about a cruise ".
He claimed to have taken a taxi home at around 7:00 am on April 29.
The lawsuit heard him twice called the police for updates on the case and gave different accounts to Emma 's sister, Sarah, on how she left her home in Monkton.
Emma 's car was essential for the timeline. Images from a camera dThe rider revealed that the blue BMW 1 Series was parked outside Willox's house at 5:39 p.m. on April 28.
But around 7:25 am the next day, Emma's neighbor told the jury that he saw a man driving the vehicle on Fullerton Street, Kilmarnock.
media caption Emma Faulds assassination: CCTV shows killer housekeeper's car
The driver was also captured on a private CCTV system wiping the interior of the car, including the steering wheel and dashboard. Willox 's DNA was later found on a seat lever .
The jury heard Willox didn't join Emma's family and friends when they put posters and leaflets distributed around 'Ayrshire after she disappeared.
Miriam said she thought it was "strange ", adding: "Why wouldn't he try to find her?
As Emma 's search intensified, experts began to track Willox's movements using CCTV and cell site analysis from his cell phones.
They also looked at his background and discovered that he used to build wind farms near Galloway Forest, in Dumfries and Galloway.
CCTV footage has been uncovered showing Willox entering
Det Insp Crombie said: "When we gathered all this evidence, it painted a suspicious picture of Ross Willox's movements.
copyright d 'image Crown Office caption of the image Ross Willox was seen on CCTV shopping for bleach, rubber gloves and both outdoor disinfectant
Police recruited research experts from the UK National Crime Agency, as well as an officer who had worked as a wind farm liaison officer and had extensive knowledge of the area.
The Galloway Forest covers approximately 700 square miles and Detective Inspector Crombie said parts of it looked like "the surface of the moon ".
Digital forensics experts examined the cell site scan of Willox's phones and covered it with CCTV, which had been retrieved from the routes he had taken within 48 hours. hours after Emma's disappearance.
As a result, they were able to reduce the search area to between 10 and 15 square miles.
Willox was under surveillance when he was arrestedwent to his mother's house on May 8, suspected of Emma 'sm urder.
The circumstantial case also appeared internet searches he had done on his best friend 's iPad. These included "can cars be tracked by GPS ? "And " can the UK police trace your car without a warrant?
image copyright PA Media
On June 12, six weeks after Emma disappeared, her naked body was found in Glentrool forest , at east of Loch Moan.
The discovery was made by Detective Ben Pacholek and his dog Bear, who had traveled over 200 miles during the investigation.
Detective Inspector Crombie said the hairs on the back of his neck rose when he got the call to say Emma's body had been found.
" It was quite a moving moment, "he added.
A pathologist was Unable to confirm Emma's death due to "degree of decay ".
But the jury was informed that soil found on boots belonging to Willox was 92% mud at the remote location where the body was retrieved .
Det Insp Crombie described the killer as" a selfish and arrogant monster "and said he made the agony of Emma's loved ones worse by not acknowledging his crime .
He added: "They are still heartbroken and I know they miss her terribly every day. To do this to his family is unforgivable.
In a statement released after the guilty verdict, Emma 's family said: "We are relatively devastated by Emma ' s death and her absence with us has left a huge void in all of our lives.
"We can't believe she was taken from us in such a violent manner and what makes matters even worse is that Ross Willox was supposed to be her friend.
"The trial was arduous and hearing what happened that night was heartbreaking, but we are thankful that Willox has been convicted and will have to live with it forever. the consequences of his acyour. "
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