Police in Delaware are hoping that releasing digital renderings of what a deceased child may have looked like before she died may help them uncover her identity.
The images, released Monday, November 18, come two months after authorities found the remains of an unknown child near the Little Lass softball fields in Smyrna on Sept. 13, police said.
"Somebody down there, visiting the park — it's open to the public — they had their dog with them. Dog wanders off, comes back with what looked like a bone fragment," Smyrna Police Corporal Brian Donner told local radio station WDEL. "At which point, that person notified the police."
Authorities believe that the child was between 2 and 5 years old, was either Caucasian or Hispanic, and had somewhat wavy, shoulder-length brown hair. An anthropological exam also showed that she suffered from at least one chronic illness, and that she may have been dead for a number of weeks or possibly longer before her remains were found, police said.
Police speculated in Sept. that the remains, which were discovered near batting cages in the area, seemed to have been left where they were for a reason, local CBS affiliate WBOC reports.
“The remains were not well hidden. They were found. Was there a reason behind that? We just don't know,” Donner told the station.
Police also said in Sept. that they uncovered evidence at the scene suggesting that there had been a fire, but they reiterated this week that, despite the presence of “burn marks” and “soot” in the area, more testing is needed, according to WDEL.
“We want to let more analyses, scientifically, go forward, before we speculate whether the fire was directly placed on the remains,” Donner told the outlet.
Police in Smyrna teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Delaware Division of Forensic Science to investigate, and it was a forensic artist with the NCMEC who created the photos, according to police.
The department took to Facebook on Monday, soon after the images were released, to clarify that they are “aware of the missing child case from southern NJ,” likely referring to 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, who is believed to have been abducted from a playground in Bridgeton, New Jersey on Sept. 16.
Despite what may appear to be physical similarities between Alavez and the unidentified child victim in Smyrna, police confirmed that the timelines do not match up.
“Their child went missing 3 days after we discovered the remains of ours,” their statement reads. “These children, while resembling one another, are conclusively separate.”
The investigation is ongoing and they are asking anyone with any knowledge regarding who the child may be, as well as any possible suspects in the case, to reach out to by calling the Smyrna Police Department at 302-653-3490, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, or The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
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