Police have confirmed that a body found in woods near Banchory is that of missing teenager Liam Smith.
The 16-year-old, from Aberdeen, was last seen on a Deeside-bound bus on November 17.
A member of the public discovered the body on Friday and formal identification has taken place.
In a family statement, Liam’s mother Alix said: “While we never gave up hope of finding Liam, we were realistic about the challenges facing us. Our hearts are broken.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the search for Liam including members of the public who took it upon themselves to help.
“Thank you also to everyone who has left messages of support which have provided us with comfort at extremely difficult times.
“At this most difficult time of all, we would ask for privacy as we try to come to terms with our enormous loss.”