Talaija Dorsey, the 12-year-old who went missing July 1 in St. James Parish, Louisiana, was found dead on Sunday after nearly a week of searching.
"It didn't end the way we prayed and hoped it would," St. James Sheriff Willy Martin said during a press conference, WBRZ reported
. "We were hopeful she ran away."
Dorsey was found in a cane field near the local highway around 10:20 a.m. in the Vacherie area. The cause of death has not been announced, but Martin said it appeared her body had been there since Tuesday.
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Emma Dorsey, Talaija's mother, first noticed she was missing from their house when a friend stopped by early in the morning to pick her up for summer camp.
Emma Dorsey’s fiancé, John D. Celestine, 43, who lived with them, was announced as a suspect during the sheriff's press conference.
"We’re still holding that person" Martin said of Celestine, who's been in police custody since Wednesday for obstruction of justice. According to The New Orleans Advocate
, he was arrested when pair of Talaija's slippers were found in a broken-down minivan at the family's home.
Martin said there were originally two other suspects in the case but said they are likely to be ruled out in the coming days. He also stated that the results of the autopsy — expected in the next day or two — would help solidify the case. So far the team that found her body are not certain whether she was killed at the scene or killed elsewhere and subsequently dumped in the grass.
The search had been an emotional one for the sheriffs department, and Martin acknowledged as much.
"I took this picture home with me every day, put it on my kitchen table and left with it every morning," he said, holding up a picture of the child. "And my guys can tell you I worked as many hours as they did, and I was determined to bring this case to closure."
After the news broke much of Talaija's family gathered at the Mount Calvary Baptist Church. Immediate family members did not comment, and Rev. Samuel Jones — who baptized Talaija — said they were grieving, and thankful for the closure after days of uncertainty.
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