The search for a little girl’s identity has gone national and thanks to social media her composite image has been shown around the world over 40 million times, yet officials still do not know who she is.
Officials revealed a composite image of the girl at a press conference held last Thursday afternoon at the site where she was found. Since then the Suffolk County district attorneys office, the Massachusetts State Police and the Winthrop Police Department have been trying to identify the girl and determine her cause of death.
It’s been two weeks since the body of the little girl was discovered in an industrial garbage bag on a shale beach on Deer Island. Today, the only sign of the grim finding is a memorial on the rock wall including a candle, a cairn, stuffed animals and flowers.
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, State Police Col. Timothy Alben, and Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty unveiled the image yards away from where the body was found by a dog walker on June 25 around 1 p.m. The computer image was made by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photos are taken of the victim from different angles. Experts then use the PhotoShop computer program to make the image and depict her as she may have been in life.
The child is believed to be about 4 years old, weighed about 30 pounds, and stood about 3 1/2 feet tall. She had brown eyes and brown hair.
Authorities also released images depicting two items found with the child’s body. One is a pair of white leggings with black polka dots, size 4T and manufactured by Circo (made for Target). The other is a black and white zebra-print fleece blanket manufactured by Cannon. Authorities believe the blanket may have been special to the girl.
“There is no cause of death,” Conley said. “It’s premature to say if any charges are in place. But there is a pressing concern for other children who might be in the home and need protection.”
Conley said it did not appear that the girl was on the beach for too long. There had been some decomposition, he added.
“Who she is and where she’s from remain a mystery to us,” Conley said. “We urge anyone with any information on her identity to share it.”
Conley added that they have had numerous calls from people wanting to help with the girl’s burial. Victor L’Esperance, deputy director of security and preparedness for the MWRA at Deer Island, said the MWRA employees want to plant a tree and install a memorial bench for the girl.
“It struck a cord with them,” L’Esperance said. “They want to pitch in a give her a dignified burial. I can tell you I didn’t sleep that night.”
There are many questions and theories about this case. Suffolk County District Attorney Spokesman Jake Wark said there is some information being held back to help solidify the investigation. He added that they are waiting for an expedited autopsy report, toxicology reports and other specialized tests. There are no outward signs of death.
“This is a beautiful child that deserves dignity,” Conley said.
“There have been 20 well-being checks nationwide from tips sent in,” Wark said.
Monday night the case was featured on CNN’s Nancy Grace Show. The dramatic former prosecutor and show host went over the basics of the story. She spoke with a reporter from the Boston Globe and with forensics expert Joseph Scott Morgan of Jacksonville State University. Morgan elaborated on the forensic analysis of the bag. He stated that oils from fingerprints would not be washed away.
Since the release of the photographs and the Nancy Grace Show hundreds of leads have come in.
According to Wark and State Police Spokesman David Procopio officials have ruled out three girls tipsters called in about.
Aliayah Lunsford, 3, of West Virginia disappeared from her home in 2011. Ayla Reynolds, 20-month old, of Maine, missing since 2011, and Cayleigh Harrison, 2 years old, missing from the beach in Rockport in 2012. Another girl, Maggie Sophia Ortega Brown, of North Carolina, was taken by her father and may be in Mexico. Her photograph has been shown side by side with the composite image of the Winthrop girl and bears an uncanny resemblance.
Anyone with any information about this toddler or who has information about a missing child is urged to call Massachusetts State Police at 508-820-2121 (24-hour number), the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit at 617-727-8817, or Winthrop Police at 617-539-5806.