Authorities have announced that they found the body of missing 9-year-old Mikaela Lynch in a creek near where she disappeared. She had been missing since Sunday afternoon, when she ran away from her home, but police were hopeful that they would find the autistic girl before anything could happen to her.
"It's difficult to be standing here saying this," Clearlake Police Chief Craig Clausen told the press yesterday afternoon. "We'll continue out the investigation to the final closure," he promised, but added that there was no indication of foul play.
Mikaela, who was autistic and could not speak, slipped out of the family's backyard when her brother left the front gate open. She was apparently nude, as officers found her clothing and shoes in the yard. Surveillance footage showed her clearly leaving her home, headed in a certain direction, but dive teams were the ones to find the body.
Friends, family, and strangers all volunteered their time to help search for Mikaela. Several of her teachers took the day off on Monday just to be able to help find their student.
"We just wanted to find that baby and bring some peace to the family," Fred Cox told The Press Democrat. "It's going to hurt. It's going to hurt real bad. This community has a lot of heart and it's going to be a big hit when news gets out."
Volunteers were signing up as late as yesterday, before the announcement came from Police Chief Clausen.
"We've had missing persons up here before, but this is the first time they've gone this far," neighbor Mike Camara told The Press Democrat. "Everybody's talking about it; everybody's looking. Every time we walk the dogs, we look. All you can do to help is look, to keep your eyes open."
The family was due to issue its first statement at the press conference yesterday, but news of Mikaela's body being found left them in silence. They have since asked for privacy as they mourn the loss of their little girl.