A Missouri town is gathering in mourning today for the funeral services of a 9-year-old girl who, according to investigators, was killed by a 15-year-old female acquaintance.
The child, Elizabeth Olten, vanished Oct. 21, sparking a massive search expanding from the girl's home outside St. Martens. The unnamed suspect, who has been charged with first degree murder, reportedly led police through the woods near Olten's home to the child's body Friday after she was fingered as a person of interest.
"We were able to obtain some physical evidence and through some analysis of some of the evidence and in all honesty some written evidence, we were able to develop a person of interest," Cole County Sheriff Greg White has said. "Once we reached that person and interviewed them, ultimately, they led us to where we've recovered Elizabeth's body."
Police did not release details about how Olten died.
The police had already searched the area, but the body had been "very well concealed," White told The Associated Press. The suspect, a minor, will appear in a concealed court hearing today to determine whether she will be held behind bars or released into her family's custody until the next hearing.
"It will be the judge's obligation to look at the individual and look at her, excuse me, look at the juvenile's circumstances," said Samantha Green of Cole County Juvenile Detention.
The suspect's attorney, Kurt Valentine, urged officials to be cautious with their judgments of the suspect, who he referred to as a child.
"I would ask that they wait, that they listen to the facts as they come out and not judge quickly," Valentine said. "Learn about this person, learn about this child. You're dealing with a child."
Olten Family Spokesman: Elizabeth Was 'Special'
Police served a search warrant to one of Olten's neighbor's houses, ABC affiliate KMIZ reported. A neighbor told KMIZ the teenage suspect lives at that house.
At today's funeral, Olten's casket will be carried from the service to a nearby graveyard by a horse-drawn hearse, STL Today reported.
"She was somebody special," Peggy Florence, a spokeswoman for the Olten family said. "They called her a girly girl. She would be out in the mud and snow in her frilly little dress."