Police have launched a murder investigation following the discovery of human remains at a site near Lytchett Matravers.

Yesterday a team of police and forensic officers cordoned off houses and woodland near Lytchett Matravers, north of Poole, in connection with the disappearance of Geoffrey Reed, 57.

This morning three people – a 25-year-old Bournemouth man, a 21-year-old man and a 32-year-old man, both of no fixed abode - remain in police custody assisting officers with the investigation. They were arrested on suspicion of murder.

Police have now confirmed that body parts have been found in the woods. They say it is too early to say if the remains are Mr Reed.

Detective Inspector Marcus Hester, of Dorset's Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Further to our earlier release relating to the missing Bournemouth man, Geoffrey Reed, I can now confirm that Dorset Police have launched a murder investigation following the discovery of human remains in a rural area at Lytchett Matravers.

“At this time I am unable to confirm the identity of the body in any way. However, it was as a result of the investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Reed that led to the discovery.

“During the course of the next few days extensive enquiries will continue.”

Mr Reed has been missing since last Thursday and police have previously described his disappearance as “out of character”.

It is understood that Mr Reed mentioned to friends he was planning on travelling to Weymouth but officers did not think he had any means of payment on him or access to money.

Officers are still at the scene searching the area. Two police vans and three unmarked cars are at the site.

Residents yesterday had their car boots checked as they arrived home to a lane off Huntick Road where the search was taking place.

Police initially said they were looking for “discarded items” and said nobody was in danger.

Chris Hayward, 49, of Lytchett Matravers, stopped to tell police that he had seen two vehicles on Monday evening, close to where most of the officers were searching.

The area was next to North Farm but covered an area including woodland and a house.

Scenes of crime forensics workers marked out areas in the woods with flags close to Huntick Road and kept repeating searches of one small area.

Among the residents leaving the houses inside the cordon were a young mum and a teenage girl who had to speak to police but were not told what the search was for.

Neil Hague, also from Lytchett Matravers, said: “I just can’t believe there’s this amount of police.”

A passing motorist, who did not want to be named, saw police activity while on the school run.

She said: “There must have been around 10 police vehicles, cars, vans and Range Rovers.

“There were about a dozen police in an area that had police tape sealing it off.

“They had also parked some police cars in the entrance to an adjacent farmhouse.”