The body of a 2-year-old girl, who disappeared from a Houston playground last week, was found submerged in a bayou over the weekend.
Maliyah “Tootie” Bass’ body is believed to have been found floating in the water on Sunday after vanishing a day earlier. The body was spotted by a jogger around 10:30 a.m. investigators said. The unresponsive child, who was rescued from the water, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I’m highly confident that foul play is involved in this case,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement.
Law enforcement wasn’t able to definitively identify the child, pending a medical examiner’s report; however, police are confident the body belongs to Bass.
“Based on what we know, based on reported missing children in this city, we believe — although we can’t confirm it’s her — there’s a high probability it will be her,” Acevedo added.
The toddler was found in the bayou approximately 15 miles downstream from her home, according to Houston police.
“It is a sad day when you go over there and look at a little baby,” Acevedo said. “We would do anything to have that baby alive. That little baby needs justice.”
No arrests have been made in the case and authorities haven’t identified any possible suspects. Police also declined to release the condition of the toddler’s body, pending an autopsy.
So far, there are few leads, Acevedo said. Authorities are confident, though, that Bass didn’t fall into the water accidentally.
“We really believe this is foul play,” Acevedo reiterated to reporters.
An Amber Alert was initially issued in the immediate aftermath of Bass’ disappearance. The 2-year-old was last seen at a playground located at a Houston apartment complex. Her mother reported her missing.
Detectives are banking on the public’s assistance, particularly those who may live along one of the bayou’s nearby waterways and may have seen something, as they press forward in investigating the toddler’s death.
“This is an active investigation as far as I’m concerned,” Acevedo said. “We’re approaching this as a murder investigation, and then we’ll see where the evidence takes us from there.”
Acevedo also urged residences and businesses along Brays Bayou and nearby waterways to come forward if they may have doorbell camera or surveillance footage that may have captured what happened to Bass.
“If you live or have a business by the bayou go back for the last 24 hours and take an extensive look at any camera you might have,” the police chief stated. “Anything that has happened along this bayou in the past 24 to 36 hours. We need the public’s help.”
Investigators said they were determined to catch Bass’ killer and bring justice to the young girl’s family.
“We’re gonna catch him,” Acevedo said. “We’re gonna find him. And we’re gonna charge him. We’re gonna get justice for this family that’s hurting, and justice for a little child who should be playing today on a Sunday in a playground and not on her way to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.”
Bass was last seen holding a pillowcase filled with her toys, according to acquaintances of the family, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“Someone had to bring her out here,” Jamarcus Davis told the Chronicle.
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