Police believe the body of a little girl who was recovered from a cement covered grave on the banks of a Michigan river is that of 5-year-old Nevaeh Buchanan.
The body, discovered Thursday by fishermen, was wearing a shirt that matches the description of the clothing Nevaeh was last seen wearing before she disappeared from the parking lot of her Monroe, Mich,. apartment complex on May 24.
"We have reasonable suspicion that this is the body of Navaeh," Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said during a press conference this morning, adding that the body "in appearance appears to be the same age, size and sex of Nevaeh Buchanan."
An autopsy will be done today to confirm the identity and determine a cause of death, but Crutchfield said there were no visible signs of abuse. The body, he said, had been buried along the River Raisin "for awhile."
He declined to comment specifically about how the body was buried only that it had some type of concrete or cement on the top. He also would not say what else investigators recovered from the grave.
When Nevaeh's mother, Jennifer Buchanan, was told about the body, "she broke down, and broke down hard," Michael Buchanan, her brother, told the Associated Press.
"She couldn't believe her daughter had to go through this," he said, adding that if it is Nevaeh's body it provides "some type of closure, even if it is for the worst."
Nevertheless, the little girl's grandmother, Sherry Buchanan, told ABC affiliate WXYZ Thursday night that she refuses to believe it until she's got proof.
"Until they have DNA testing through [Neveah's mother] and match the blood type and eveything and make sure ... I'm just holding onto that thought in my heart," she said.
Buchanan told WXYZ-TV that he had asked police for a picture of the body, but her request was denied.
Backing away from previous statements naming two sex offenders as persons of interest, Crutchfield would not comment on any suspects. George Kennedy, 39, and Roy Lee Smith, 48, both said to be acquaintances of Nevaeh's mother, are being held on probation violations simply for being associated with a child.
Crutchfield said Jennifer Buchanan was cooperating with police, but would not comment when asked if they believe she knows something about the crime or who murdered her daughter.
The murderer, he said, could still be free in the community.
"In my opinion it is a very sick or disturbed person we are looking for, a person who is able to abduct and murder an innocent 5-year-old child," he said.
Investigators, Crutchfield said, are expected to be back today at the scene, which has been limited to law enforcement and residents.
Guy Bickley, along with his son and father, found the little girl's body while they were fishing along the riverbank.
Ryan Bickley, 15, told The Associated Press his father had spotted a block of poured cement and was hit by the smell he likened to a decomposing body.
Ryan told the Associated Press that the smell "overwhelmed them" as his father moved closer to chip away at a piece of the cement, which revealed what appeared to be human skin.
Nevaeh's family members told the Detroit affiliate that they are even more suspicious now of George Kennedy, a 39-year-old registered sex offenderand friend of Nevaeh's mother, who has been named a person of interest by Monroe County police.