Official: Body found ID’d as Kayleah Wilson
Associated Press Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
GREELEY, Colo. – Police confirmed Thursday that a body recovered from an irrigation ditch in northern Colorado is that of a 12-year-old girl missing since March and she was the victim of homicide.
Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said the body recovered Wednesday is that of Kayleah Wilson, of Greeley, who was last seen walking to a friend’s house for a birthday party.
Garner said Thursday the coroner’s office ruled Wilson’s death a homicide. He said police know the “manner and cause” of death but he declined to provided details. No one has been arrested, Garner said.
The body had been in the irrigation ditch “for some time” in an area that had been searched twice, Garner said. Greeley is about 60 miles northeast of Denver.
Police retrieved the decomposed body from the ditch Wednesday, about a half-mile from the home of the missing sixth-grader. A worker checking the ditch after heavy rain found the body in about 3 feet of water, said Sgt. Joe Tymkovich.
Wilson’s disappearance on March 28 spawned repeated searches by police, Greeley residents and the FBI. Authorities said they pursued more than 300 leads and knocked on the doors of about 1,000 homes.
No one has been ruled out as a suspect, but investigators have nothing that points to family members, Garner said.
Authorities received additional tips on the case after the body was recovered, and police will vigorously press the investigation, he vowed.
“We don’t give up on cases like this. We don’t give up,” Garner said.
Police met with Wilson’s mother, April Wilson, before the public announcement, the chief said.
“She’s upset as you would expect,” he said.
Family friend Cindy Rogers said finding out about Kayleah “sure is devastating.”
“But now I’m glad that it’s her because now the community can lay her to rest,” Rogers said. “She can go home to where she belongs.”
Rogers called Kayleah “a very sweet, quiet young girl.”
“She loved to laugh. She had a really great personality. She’s going to be missed,” Rogers said.
Authorities had stressed they didn’t know if Kayleah Wilson had run away or was abducted and did not issue an Amber Alert, which notifies the public about a possible child abduction through text messages, phone calls, radio and television broadcasts and highway signs.
Authorities said criteria for an alert include information that a child may be in danger or if a suspect has been identified. The criteria ensure that the public won’t ignore alerts because they are not broadcast often.
In April, as leads from the public dwindled, authorities increased the reward for information about Wilson to $20,000. Investigators also described behavior that might point to a possible abductor. They urged people to watch for someone who had missed work, had unexplained injuries or shown an unexpected or sudden interest in the case.
About 150 people gathered at the ditch after the body was found Wednesday evening, many of them carrying candles and teddy bears.