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Body found in Georgia may be missing girl

Posted October 21, 2009

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— Authorities say they have not identified a child's body they found Wednesday in a landfill while searching for a missing 7-year-old girl. Family members were hopeful the girl is still alive, though neighbors in the girl's community feared the worst.

The partially covered body of the child was found in a Georgia landfill near the Florida state line, after investigators followed garbage trucks leaving from the neighborhood where Somer Thompson disappeared Monday.

Sheriff Rick Beseler said investigators searched through 100 tons of garbage before finding the body. He first said the body was female, then corrected himself to say he could not confirm the gender.

Few other details about the body, such as a possible cause of death, were released. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation planned an autopsy Thursday.

Somer Thompson Body found may be missing Florida girl

Somer vanished on her mile-long walk home from school Monday in Orange Park. She was squabbling with another child, and her sister told her to stop. The girl got upset, walked ahead of the group and wasn't seen again.

"You can't see that much of the leg. Certainly that'll be something that we'll be trying to gather right away. Our detectives are still in route to Folkston," Beseler said.

The girl's aunt, Laura Holt, said family members were going through an agonizing wait to find out whose body was found.

"I'm still holding out hope this is not Somer," Holt said Wednesday night, her voice cracking.

Earlier, Sam Thompson, the girl's father said from his home in Graham, N.C., said he would like to get his daughter back and wouldn't worry about her abductor.

“For anybody who has taken my daughter, I would just beg them and plead to their sense of humanity that they would let my daughter come home,” Sam Thompson said.

Sam Thompson, who is estranged from Somer's mother, lives in Graham.

"I can't describe how that feels. It feels like somebody just took the life out of you," he said before authorities said they found the body.

That news was an awful blow to her brother, Holt said. He nearly had a breakdown not long after, when someone claiming to be part of the search team in Florida told him they had positively identified the child as his daughter because of a birthmark. The claim was quickly found to be false after a call to the sheriff, she said.

"My brother just fell apart. He thought he was having a heart attack," she said. Thompson is now staying at an undisclosed family member's home to get away from the "circus" in front of his house.

Earlier Wednesday, Somer's mother went on all three national network morning news shows with a tearful appeal for the child's return.

"Somer, you're not in trouble – if you're scared, just come home," Dina Thompson said on NBC's "Today" show. "And if somebody has her, please, please bring her back to us. She belongs with her family."

"She's got a twin and he's lost without her," Thompson said in a later news conference.

The Justice Coalition and First Coast Crime Stoppers are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The second-grader is white, 3 foot 5 inches tall and weighs 65 pounds. She had brown hair tied in a pony tail with a red bow and was carrying a purple Hannah Montana backpack and lunch box.

The Amber Alert was issued at 9 a.m. Tuesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The alert was not immediately issued for Somer because her disappearance wasn't witnessed and there was no description of a vehicle.


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  • tiggerjd3 Oct 21, 2009

    My prayers and thoughts go out to this family!! This is so sad. There are so many sick people in this world,its terrible.

  • krisandbruiser Oct 21, 2009

    WakeCountyRedneck - God does not allow this to happen. As humans, we have our own will, and we also have evil in this world. Please do not blame God for this violence, crimes, the world basically going nuts! God is here for all of us, if we would accept Him and come to Him. Even though we have taken Him out of our schools, out of so many other places, He is still here.

  • Tired Of Excuses Oct 21, 2009

    Very sad.
    This brings me back to when I was in 2nd grade. I can't stress enough parents to not let your children walk by themselves, especially little girls. You think you know your neighbors and just because someone is a parent doesn't mean they are a good person.
    There are crazy people out there with sick twisted minds when it comes to children.

  • WakeCountyRedNeck Oct 21, 2009

    quit_whining, we do live in dangerous times. And crime is worse. A small child dies and you are talking about Al Gore and the Internet. Thanks for nothing. What a poor post. Hang up your boxing gloves.

  • WakeCountyRedNeck Oct 21, 2009

    A small child's body was found in a landfill. It is times like this where I begin to doubt if there is really a God. I saw a video the other day where an infant in a stroller got away from the mother in Australia and fell onto the train tracks just as a train pulled into the station. The infant survived with minor injuries and I say to myself - it must have been a guardian angel or God was looking out for her. Then something like this happens and I begin to doubt again. God, if you exist, which I believe you do, why do you allow this to happen? I just don't get it!

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Oct 21, 2009

    It could at least give a description of the child.

  • deduce Oct 21, 2009

    SpunkyGrits, here is a site with the Amber Alert Guidelines: http://www.amberalert.gov/guidelines.htm

    I understand the frustration, but the first guideline is a confirmed abduction. Also, what info would the alert contain - it's tough to mobilize a search when you have no description of a vehicle or abductor.

  • deduce Oct 21, 2009

    I'd have to agree with quit_whining. 37 years ago, when I was 8 or 9, I was walking home from school, which I did every day - about a mile - when a man in a beat up old VW Bug tried very hard to get me to get in his car with him. First coaxing me with a friendly offer of a ride, but he seemed off to me even as a 9 year old. After that didn't work, he became very angry and aggressively approached me. I ran to the nearest house and he sped away in his car. I didn't know anything about sexual predators then, so it scares me more now to think back about it than it did then. At the time I just thought he was a crazy, creepy person. This is nothing new and statistically no different than 30, 40, 50 years ago. We just hear about every case nowadays. If I had been assaulted or killed then, it would have made the local paper and nothing more.

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Oct 21, 2009

    The alert was not immediately issued for Somer because her disappearance wasn't witnessed and there was no description of a vehicle."

    IMHO, that is one of the most ridiculous reasons for not issueing an alert! Who cares if no one saw her actually being taken??? She was missing, period!!!

  • Eduardo1 Oct 21, 2009

    This is a story, that should not be out yet.
    May be missing girl, how cruel, to state that. It may be one of the many thousands that go missing in this country every year Why can't they not even tell the gender YET? So why write that it may be the missing girl! Have not seen distinctive birthmark, so why say it may be the missing girl.
    I do not have any problem with a report that a body was found in Ga, but with no gender yet established, it should not have stated that it MAY be the missing girl from Fla.