crimesider

Search for Missing 7-Year-Old Somer Thompson Leads to Body in Landfill

(family photo)
Photo: Somer Thompson, right.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. (CBS/AP) Detectives searching for a missing 7-year-old north Florida girl say they have found the body of a young child in a Georgia landfill.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said the body found Wednesday had not been identified but the parents of Somer Thompson have been notified.

Somer vanished on her mile-long walk home from school Monday in Orange Park, near Jacksonville.

She was squabbling with another child, and her sister told her to stop. The girl got upset, walked ahead of the group and wasn't seen again.

Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville just south of Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The area where the girl disappeared is a heavily populated residential area.

Somer's mother, Diena Thompson, went on all three national network morning news shows with a tearful appeal for the child's return Wednesday.

"Somer, you're not in trouble — if you're scared, just come home," Diena Thompson said on NBC's "Today" show. "And if somebody has her, please, please bring her back to us. She belongs with her family."

"She's got a twin and he's lost without her," Thompson said in a later news conference.

Sam Thompson, the girl's father, said from his home in Graham, N.C. 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.

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said investigators are baffled.

"Somer disappeared off the face of the earth. We just don't have a clue right now where she is," Beseler said.

It's not yet clear if the body found in the landfill is Somer Thompson.

The sheriff said officers had interviewed about 75 known sex offenders in a five-square-mile radius. Teams of volunteers were walking arm-to-arm through the woods, and deputies were using helicopters and search dogs.

Investigators have said they suspect foul play.

"The likelihood she has been taken by someone is high," the sheriff said.

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
October 20, 2009 - Somer Thompson Vanished After School, Seven-Year-Old Girl Missing in Orange Park, Fla.

  • Neil Katz

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