ORANGE PARK, Fla. - Authorities say they have not identified a child’s body they found yesterday in a landfill while searching for a missing 7-year-old girl. Family members were hopeful the girl is still alive, though neighbors were fearing the worst.
The partially covered body of the child was found in a Georgia landfill near the Florida state line, after investigators followed garbage trucks leaving the neighborhood where Somer Thompson disappeared Monday.
Sheriff Rick Beseler said investigators searched through 100 tons of garbage before finding the body. He first said the body was female, then corrected himself to say he could not confirm the gender.
Few other details about the body, such as a possible cause of death, were released. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation planned an autopsy today.
Somer vanished on her milelong walk home from school Monday in Orange Park. She was squabbling with another child, and her sister told her to stop. The girl got upset, walked ahead of the group, and wasn’t seen again.
The girl’s aunt, Laura Holt, said family members were going through an agonizing wait to find out whose body was found.
“I’m still holding out hope this is not Somer,’’ Holt said last night, her voice cracking.
Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville just south of Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The area where the girl disappeared is a heavily populated area with homes, apartment complexes, and condominiums.