PHOENIX (AP) _ The Arizona Republic apologized Friday in print to the family of a slain teen-age girl for using her image in the background of an April Fools' Day parody photo.

The photograph, published Thursday in the newspaper's weekly entertainment section, is of Julie Sund on ice skates at Yosemite National Park, with an image of Chelsea Clinton superimposed in the foreground.

Julie, 15, her mother and a friend disappeared near the park this winter and were found dead about a month later. The photo, taken the weekend before the three disappeared, was developed and given to news organizatons by investigators who found a roll of film near the sightseers' charred rental car.

The Republic said in the apology printed on page A2 that the photograph was chosen because it portrayed ice skaters, and their identities had not been researched.

``The use of the photograph was inappropriate,'' the newspaper said. ``The Arizona Republic extends its sincere apologies to the Sund family and to all of our readers.''

Julie's aunt, Vickie Caton of Phoenix, spotted the photo in the paper Thursday morning and began sobbing, said her husband, Ron.

Executive Editor Pam Johnson said Publisher John Oppedahl and other newspaper officials had called the Sund family to apologize personally.

``There was no purpose to using this other than to illustrate the idea of ice skating. It's a very regretful situation,'' she said. ``We just hope the family can put this aside. They've got enough to deal with.''