Heartbreaking Discovery of Child's Body in Dump

Police found the body of a young white child at a dump in Flokston, Ga.

October 21, 2009, 4:52 PM

Oct. 21, 2009— -- A child's body was found today in a Georgia landfill just across the Florida state line where 7-year-old Somer Thompson disappeared two days ago.

It is "not conclusive yet this is Somer, but all indications sort of point in that direction," said Gov. Charlie Crist, R-Fla.

"We all need to say a prayer for Somer's family," Crist said.

Police found the body of a young white child at a dump in Flokston, Ga., the terminus of a garbage route that collects refuse in Orange Park, Fla., the town where Somer vanished Monday afternoon while walking home from school.

Authorities have not yet positively identified the body.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said it was a "matter of routine course" in a missing person case that police "begin following garbage trucks" and search nearby landfills.

Beseler said Somer parents had been notified that a body was found.

The case, he said, will now proceed as a homicide investigation with police switching gears to begin looking for the person or persons responsible for killing the second grader.

"Now we can begin the painstaking effort of finding who did this and bringing them to justice," Beseler said.

A group called Justice Coalition has put up a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Somer's killer. Some of that reward money came from Crimestoppers who urged anyone with information to call 1-866-845-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

Clay County Police asked tipsters to call 877-227-6911.

Besler said a Georgia medical examiner will conduct an authopsy.

Police, he said, secured the landfill Tuesday night and began their search this morning, scouring 100 tons of trash.

Somer vanished on her mile-long walk home from school Monday in Orange Park, near Jacksonville. The 4-foot-5 tyke had her hair in a ponytail and was wearing a purple Hannah Montana backpack and carrying a lunchbox at the time.

She had been walking with her two siblings, including a twin brother, and friend when she got into an argument with another child. Somer walked ahead of the group and was never seen again.

Somer's Mother Had Pleaded for Her Return

The girl's distraught mother Diena Thompson had held out hope earlier in the day that her cheerful outgoing daughter would come home and pleaded with potential kidnappers.

"They should know that she's one of the most loving little girls in the whole wide world. She doesn't know a stranger," Thompson said through her tears.

Local, state and federal authorities spent three days looking for Somer over land, in surrounding lakes and aboard helicopters with heat-sensing technology.

With no physical evidence or leads, cops interviewed more than 70 registered sex offenders who were living in 5 mile radius of where Somer disappeared.

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