Police investigating the disappearance of 25-year-old Alan Youngson have arrested five men on suspicion of the murder.
The arrests come after a body was found buried in woodland close to the A1 motorway in County Durham on Monday.
Although no formal identification has been made, police are progressing the investigation on the basis that the body found in the woods in Darlington is Alan.
The five men arrested are aged between 28 and 38 and come from the Branksome, Cockerton and North Road areas of Darlington.
The body which was buried was found in the Branksome area of the town in a wooded area at the end of Jedburgh Drive towards the A1.
Police have been searching for Alan after he was reported as a missing person on August 15.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir said "Although we are still working to formally identify the body we found on Monday evening we are pursuing this investigation on the assumption that it is Alan and his family have been informed of this. This morning my officers have arrested five local men in connection with Alan’s murder and they are currently in police custody.”
"Something like this happening in any community is shocking and upsetting but I would like to take this opportunity to reassure people that we believe this to be an isolated incident and that people should not be worried or concerned. I would urge anyone with any information that may help us to get in touch”
A formal identification will take place in due course.
Police can be contacted on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111