GULFPORT, Miss. - The body of a missing 5-year-old girl was found Thursday in a vacant mobile home near her apartment, and her death is being investigated as a homicide, Gulfport police said.
An autopsy was underway Thursday afternoon on the body of Janaya Makayia Thompson, the Harrison County Coroner's Office said.
"I won't release anything until I'm satisfied the family is aware of what we found," Coroner Gary Hargrove told The Mississippi Press.
Police Chief Leonard Papania asked for patience earlier in the day, when he said a girl's body had been found but not identified. "This is a tragedy, not a story," he said.
After that news conference, Hargrove talked to the girl's father, Jarmal Thompson, who listened quietly. Then family members gathered, consoling him and sobbing, The Sun Herald reported.
The child had last been seen about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the parking lot outside her apartment.
Sgt. Damon McDaniel, the Gulfport Police spokesman, said the child's body was found about 8:45 a.m. in the home about a five-minute walk from the apartment. Police would not provide any information on a possible cause of death.
A search dog helped locate the body, authorities said. Four dogs and six people from Gulf Coast Search and Rescue helped with the search, Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan told WLOX-TV. As many as 80 people waited outside the house trailer until a funeral home vehicle left with her body, The Sun Herald reported. The body was moved behind screens from the front door to the vehicle.