LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Investigators are treating the case as a homicide after the remains of two young girls were discovered in a South Florida canal hours apart.
The body of the first girl, who was between the ages of 10 and 13, was discovered outside a condominium complex in Lauderhill, near Fort Lauderdale, on Tuesday afternoon. The second body was discovered shortly before 9 p.m., not far from the first one.
By late Tuesday night, police said no parents had come forward to report their child missing. Because the first girl showed no indications of trauma, officials did not suspect foul play at first. Late Tuesday night, the body of the second girl was still in the water as officers resumed their investigation.
During a press briefing, Lauderhill police Lt. Michael Santiago remarked, “It’s a very complicated case with a lot of moving elements.”
Investigators believe they’ve found the first child, but haven’t been able to confirm her identification because the family hasn’t been alerted, according to him.
Detectives walked the length of the canal that runs behind the Habitat II Condominiums after the first body was discovered, but found nothing additional, Santiago said. At 8:45 p.m., authorities got a 911 call from someone who had seen the body of the second child.
The first child was dressed in jean shorts and a gray blouse with the word “Dance” written in rainbow script. Her hair was in twists, and she wore no shoes. According to WPLG, the second child was dressed in a tan shirt and flowery pajama bottoms.
Detectives knocked on doors in the neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon, asking neighbors if they knew the little girl. According to the South Florida SunSentinel, police believe she lived at the property.
Neighbors informed the newspaper that on Monday, the toddler was seen with another girl her age. They also reported seeing a woman swimming in the canal on Monday night while reading the Bible not far from where the first body was discovered. According to the SunSentinel, Santiago validated the eyewitness testimonies.
Investigators are following up on all leads, according to Santiago.
Lawna Johnson, 51, said she was sitting near the canal when she noticed the body in the water on Tuesday.
She expressed her dissatisfaction by saying, “It’s really upsetting.” “I see stuff on TV, but I’ve never seen something like that in real life.”
Amon Hilt, the father of three children, told WSVN that the body of the second girl was discovered after he returned home on Tuesday night.
“I was walking back from a friend’s house when my other friend remarked, ‘Hey dude, there’s a body in the lake.’ ‘Yeah, I heard about it,’ I said. ‘No, there’s a body in the lake right now,’ he said, according to Hilt.