A 3-year-old Missouri girl was found dead on the morning of Aug. 28, one day after going missing.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop G Information Officer Sgt. Jeff Kinder told Ozark Radio News that the body of Vivian Fitzenrider was discovered in a pond near the house she vanished from in Mountain Grove.
Hundreds of people scoured the area on Tuesday but did not find Vivian, who officials said walked away from the house around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Search dogs joined the effort early Wednesday and the girl was discovered around 7:12 a.m.
BREAKING NEWS: Missouri State Highway Patrol confirms the body of 3-year-old Vivian Fitzenrider was found in a pond near her home just after 7 a.m.
Sgt. Jeff Kinder says foul play does not appear to be a factor right now. More info to come. pic.twitter.com/Y9EGcRhPPJ
— Lauren Barnas KOLR10 (@LaurenBarnas) August 28, 2019
Kinder told KTTS that the body was found by a highway patrol marine enforcement officer.
Initial evidence doesn’t suggest foul play but an autopsy was scheduled. Kinder said a child fatality review board will also look into the case.
In a statement, the Mountain Grove Fire Department said: “We are posting this morning with heavy hearts. As many of you know the body of 3-year-old Vivian was recovered this morning. It is a tragedy that no one is prepared for and an outcome nobody ever wants.”
“Our prayers now are with Vivian’s family, friends, and community. Along with law enforcement, fire departments, [and] sheriff departments there were hundreds of volunteers from our community that responded to the incident and assisted with the search. This is what makes Mountain Grove the most wonderful place on earth. The Mountain Grove Fire Department brags on our community and we are never ever disappointed. Hundreds of people from our community came out and searched,” the department added.
“I know we all hoped that she would be found safe, but it is not what God had planned. Now we are asking our community to wrap this family in prayers for peace and understanding in the coming days and forward from there. Once again thank you to everyone that searched, donated, or prayed for us during this tragedy. God bless and stay safe.”
Earlier in the morning, the department told the community: “At this time we won’t be needing any other help. We have specialized dogs out searching. If we do need help we will post. We can not thank the community enough for the turnout last night.”
There were 424,066 missing children reported in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2018, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Under federal law, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement they must be entered into the database. In 2017, there were 464,324 entries.
“This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total,” the center noted.
The center said it assisted officers and families with the cases of more than 25,00 missing children. In those cases, 92 percent were endangered runaways, 4 percent were family abductions, 3 percent were critically missing young adults between the ages of 17 and 21, 1 percent were lost, injured, or otherwise missing children, and less than one percent were nonfamily abductions.
The center was founded by John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates in 1984 as a private, non-profit organization to serve as the national clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children.
The number of both missing children and missing persons decreased in 2018 to levels not seen since the FBI started recording the data, The Epoch Times reported earlier this year.
It’s not clear what exactly is behind the latest decrease.
Part of the long-term downward trend may have to do with technology, said Robert Lowery, vice president for the missing children division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Most of the missing children are runaways between 13 and 17, he said. “A lot of these children now have, frankly, cellphones or smartphones. They’re also using social media. … The point being that parents are able to find their children themselves much quicker than they had been, before they have to engage law enforcement.”