Authorities searching for a missing 7-year-old north Florida girl said they found the body of a young child in a Georgia landfill Wednesday.
Police did not immediately confirm Wednesday that the body was that of Somer Thompson, the second grader last seen Monday afternoon walking home with her siblings and friends from Grove Park Elementary School near Jacksonville. They said the body was still being identified.
Clay County, Fla., Sheriff Rick Beseler first said the body was a female, but then corrected himself and said he couldn't yet confirm the gender. The parents of Somer Thompson, who has been missing since Monday, have been notified.
The body was found by Clay County detectives who followed garbage trucks from the girl's neighborhood to Folkston, Ga., just north of the Florida state line.
Beseler said investigators searched through 100 tons of garbage before finding the partially covered body. He did not give any other details about the discovery.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was helping with the investigation and planned to conduct an autopsy on the body Thursday in its Savannah office, spokesman John Bankhead said.
"We all need to say a prayer for Somer's family," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said at a press conference announcing the discovery.
Somer vanished on her mile-long walk home from school Monday in Orange Park, a suburb just south of Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The area where she disappeared is a heavily populated residential area with homes, apartment complexes and condominiums.
Somer was squabbling with another child, and her sister told her to stop. She became upset, walked ahead of the group and wasn't seen again
Investigators said before the body was discovered that they had no clues in the case but they suspected foul play in Somer's disappearance.
"Somer disappeared off the face of the earth. We just don't have a clue right now where she is," Beseler said. "We want to find who did this and bring them to justice."
Somer's mother went on all three national network morning news shows with a tearful appeal for the child's return.
Asked to describe her daughter, Diena Thompson told CBS' "The Early Show", "She's a beautiful 7-year-old, doesn't know a stranger. She's loving, she's creative. Has a twin, and he wants her to come home."
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.
"Just let her go. As far as I'm concerned, he can go free. Go on and live his life somewhere else. I forgive him. The Lord says you have to forgive people who trespass against you. So, I forgive him. I just want my daughter back," he said.