An 8-year-old girl, the third child to go missing from an Idaho home, is believed to have been found murdered last week and a suspect has been arrested.
Tristan Sexton, 17, was the first to vanish from his home in rural Emmett, Idaho in September 2020. Taylor Summers, 14, vanished a month later, and 8-year-old Taryn Summers disappeared Apr. 12, the Associated Press reports. The teens were both reported as runaways, and authorities initially thought Taryn Summers might have joined them them when she went missing, according to a press release by the Gem County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities last week launched an intensive search, scouring the local wilderness with K-9 units and drones, KLEW reports. Their efforts soon led them to a home in Emmett, where they found a body they've tentatively identified as Taryn, the Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release Friday.
The office said a suspect has been arrested in nearby Ada County, but didn’t list a name. However, 54-year-old Connie Ann Smith was arrested Thursday on murder charges there based on an out-of-county warrant, according to online inmate records. The child's body was found at a home owned by a Connie Smith, the AP reports, citing Gem County Assessor's records.
Jennifer Sexton, who identified herself as Summers’s aunt, said that all three of the vanished children were siblings and that Smith was their foster mother, according to the description on a GoFundMe page Sexton created to help cover funeral costs. The children’s biological mother was arrested in 2019 after Taylor, Taryn and another sibling tested positive for hard drugs, according to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.
Law enforcement and family have been in contact with Sexton and Taylor Summers since beginning the search for Taryn. Neither of the teens is believed to be in danger at this time, according to the Thursday press release.
Community members held a candlelit vigil on Saturday in Summers’s memory, KBOI-TV reports.
“She was my best friend. I rode the bus with her. I miss her and I hope she is in heaven,” local resident Jerilyn Hergenreder told the station.
It’s not clear if Smith has an attorney who can comment on her behalf.
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