GREELEY, Colo. (CBS/AP) The search for 12-year-old Kayleah Wilson may be over and the end may be tragic.
Police retrieved a badly decomposed body from an irrigation ditch in northern Colorado on Wednesday, about a half-mile from the home of the missing sixth-grader, but could not immediately make an identification.
"Given the size of the person and its state of decomposition, it's a possibility," Sgt. Joe Tymkowych said, but was cautious about jumping to conclusions.
"The decomposition is to the point where it's difficult to say whether it's a male or a female," he said. "We are unable to make an identification at this time."
Wilson, blue-eyed and brown-haired, was 5-foot-1 and 145 pounds. She was last seen walking March 28 to a friend's house for a birthday party.
The body is so badly decomposed that investigators planned to use dental records and possibly DNA and hair fibers to identify the body.
If DNA is called into play, that process could take weeks, FBI spokesman Dave Joly said.
Tymkowych wouldn't comment on how long officers believe the body was buried in the ditch. Searchers had checked the ditch at least twice before while looking for Kayleah, he said. On Wednesday, a worker checking the ditch for problems after heavy rain found the body in about 3 feet of water.
A few of Kayleah's friends and residents gathered at the ditch as officers walked along it searching for evidence on Wednesday afternoon.
Kayleah's friend Shelly Culver, 18, described Kayleah as outgoing and said she loved to draw. "Kayleah would not be the kind of person to run away."
Melissa Lynch, 31, whose daughter goes to school at nearby Frontier Academy, said, "To a lot of us that live here that have kids, it's more than just 'that Greeley girl."'