A 6-year-old Indiana girl who went missing is dead, and a teenaged suspect is now under arrest in connection with the case, authorities said.
Grace Ross disappeared in New Carlisle, Indiana, around 6:30 p.m. on March 12. The child’s body was recovered two hours later in the woods, according to the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit.
After the tragic discovery, police took a 14-year-old boy into custody, but the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office did not release a name or further details on charges since the suspect is a minor and will be “progressing through the juvenile system.”
Officials have also declined to provide Ross’ cause of death pending autopsy results.
Longtime residents of the small Midwestern community about 15 miles from South Bend expressed disbelief over the crime.
“Right at your back door, you just don’t anticipate anything like that ever happening in your area,” Kim Huston told WSBT-TV.
"It's a small town and we usually don't have much crime in the area at all. I mean everybody kind of keeps to themselves and kids on their bicycles, playing at the park, going to the library,” she added.
Loved ones held a candlelight vigil for Ross on March 14.
“She was a shining star. No matter where she went, she lit up a room. She’s so intelligent, so beautiful and spunky,” the victim’s grandmother, Kelli Howard, said, according to the Associated Press.
In an online Facebook fundraiser, Nicole Ross, wrote that her “darling” niece “is now an angel in heaven.”