Officers were called to the scene shortly before 8pm on Saturday August 24 after the discovery was made by a member of the public.
Following a lengthy and detailed examination of the scene by forensic experts police have confirmed the find is the body of a woman.
While formal identification has yet to be carried out at this stage police say they believe the body to be that of Lindsay Birbeck.
Lindsay, 47, a teaching assistant, went missing from home on August 12 and police have been treating her disappearance as a missing from home enquiry. Today, police said in a statement that it is now a murder investigation.
Lindsay’s family have been informed and are being supported by family liaison officers.
A Home Office post mortem examination will now be carried out to try to establish the cause of death and a team of detectives are working on the enquiry to establish what has happened to Lindsay after she went missing.
Detectives are carrying out a review of CCTV, doing house to house enquiries and trying to piece together Lindsay’s movements since she was captured on CCTV on Burnley Road at just after 4pm on Monday August 12.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Johnston, of the Force Major Investigation Team, who is leading the enquiry, said: “First and foremost my thoughts are with the family and friends of Lindsay at what must be an incredibly difficult time for them. I need the public’s help to find out what happened to Lindsay after she went missing so I can provide some answers for them.
“The picture of Lindsay on CCTV Burnley Road is the last sighting we have of her and I need to find out where she has gone after that point and what has happened to her. I would appeal for anyone with CCTV, especially in the area of Peel Park Avenue, to come forward and I would also like to speak to anyone who thinks they saw Lindsay, or anyone matching her description, or who saw anything suspicious in that area on the afternoon or evening of August 12 to come and speak to us.
“At this stage we do not know how Lindsay’s body came to be in the cemetery, or how long it has been there so I would also like to speak to anyone who has seen anything suspicious in or around the cemetery area after August 12th or anyone who has any drone footage or dashcam footage which could assist.
“Please come forward with any information, no matter how insignificant you may think it is as it could provide the key we need to finding Lindsay’s killer and providing those answers for her family.”
As a reminder Lindsay was last seen wearing a purple Rab bubble jacket, black leggings, a white shirt with blue pin stripes and black trainers with a white sole. Her Huawei mobile phone is also missing.
Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting log number 0824 of August 26th or independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.