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Police Say Plano Toddler Was Suffocated, Cause Of Death Homicide

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - There's new information concerning the Plano toddler who died earlier this month.

Two-year-old Grace Ford was found unconscious on January 9 and was taken off life support a few days later. Wednesday a report from the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office said her death was a homicide.

Officials with Plano police told CBS 11 News the death has deeply affected the department and detectives are working weekends and holidays to build a case against the person responsible.

Grace would have turned 3-years-old in February. The preliminary autopsy report lists the toddler's cause of death as homicidal violence.

"It confirms our suspicions from the onset of our investigation and we're gonna move forward with what we had suspected all along," said Plano police Officer David Tilley.

Police are closely guarding details of the investigation, but have confirmed Grace was suffocated. Officials said they are not ready to name a suspect in the murder. "We don't want to make any mistakes. We're not discounting anyone on this," Tilley said. "This young lady deserves justice, her family deserves justice."

During an interview last week, Grace's aunt declined to elaborate on how the toddler died citing the police investigation.  But, a number of theories were soon floated on social media. But police warned that the community should be leery of the online theories.

Officer Tilley said, "We're focusing on the facts of the case. And many of the things that are being said out there are not true and that will all come to light eventually down the road, we hope."

Child Protective Services has confirmed there was prior contact with the toddler's family.  The agency conducted four investigations between March of 2012 and this month.

A statement sent by CPS said, in part, "Two of the investigations resulted from reports alleging neglect, and two investigations resulted from reports that Grace was physically abused. In three of the investigations, family members were the alleged perpetrators and in the most recent allegation the perpetrator was reported as unknown."

In all four investigations, CPS either ruled out the allegations or was unable to determine if they were valid. After two of the investigations, family members were referred for counseling.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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