The unidentified body of a little girl found in a Georgia landfill Wednesday has been tentatively identified as that of the missing Florida girl, Somer Thompson. Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said Thursday that they had identified the body by the description of the clothes she was wearing when last seen and the a birthmark. The partially covered body was found in a landfill in Folkston, Georgia, about 48 miles from where Somer Thompson went missing in Orange Park, Florida. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday and a positive identification of the girl believed to be Somer Thompson will be made.
Beseler spoke with “Good Morning America” Thursday morning. He said, “I had to make one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make in my career last night.” He also said that he felt confident that they would solve the case.
At a news conference, Sheriff Beseler said he feared for the community until the killer was found.
He told “Good Morning America” that one of his detectives had brought up the idea to check the landfills that service the Florida suburb, so a detective was assigned to follow each truck that went to the Georgia landfill. The girl’s body had been in one of the trucks. “Had we not done that, tons of garbage would have been distributed over the body,” Beseler said, “and likely never would have been found.”
Somer Thompson went missing on Monday afternoon while walking home from school. After an argument with a friend, the 7-year-old ran ahead of the group with which she had been walking.
And never made it home.
Now the investigation will turn to finding her killer or the individual that might know the circumstances within which she died. Until the final autopsy report, it will remain unknown if the body found in the landfill died as a result of a homicide, although it does seem to be the most likely scenario.
Investigators are continuing canvassing. They are also continuing the questioning of over 90 registered sex offenders in the five-mile radius around Orange Park. However, Beseler did not divulge any revealing information about the ongoing investigation or what clues investigators may have uncovered with the body.
The attempt at hiding or getting rid of the body is indicative of foul play. An FBI forensics unit are working on processing potential evidence from the trash that surrounded the recovered body.
Evidence on or around the body can be helpful to an investigation. For example, when the body of little 8-year-old Sandra Cantu was found in a piece of sunken luggage in an irrigation pond in California, the luggage helped lead investigators to the door of Melissa Huckaby, a neighbor of the Cantu girl. Huckaby owned luggage matching the piece that Sandra Cantu’s body was discovered in. She was later charged with kidnapping, rape, and murder.
It is hoped that the area around the body of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan will ultimately lead investigators to her killer. Nevaeh Buchanan went missing in May and her body was recovered 11 days later encased in cement on a Michigan riverbank. The autopsy revealed that she suffocated while breathing in dirt, and it is believed she was alive when buried underneath the cement. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is offering a $20,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of Nevaeh Buchanan’s killer.
According to ABC News, a group called the Justice Coalition has put up a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of anyone involved in the death of Somer Thompson. Tips for the police can be made at 866-845-TIPS, where callers can remain anonymous. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 877-227-6911.
“Good Morning America,” ABC Television