After the body of a 10-year-old girl is found in the woods, the Wisconsin State Police have launched a murder investigation 2022-04-26 11:54:00

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The Chippewa Falls Police Department said in a press release Monday that Lilly’s father called police Sunday night when she did not come home from visiting her aunt’s house. Later that night, officers found a bike in a wooded area near a walking trail near her aunt’s house and near Leinenkugel’s Brewery parking lot, police said.

Police said her body was found at around 9 a.m. Monday in the woods near the hiking trail. The Chippewa County Coroner’s Office confirmed that the remains belonged to Lilly.

The press release said officers believe Lilly was last seen by family members on the night of her disappearance. Police said she was supposed to go home from her aunt’s when she disappeared.

The statement said that overnight, authorities searched for Lilly by going door to door and using K9 teams. They also used a drone to search the wooded area where her bike was found.

During a news conference on Monday, Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matthew Kelm did not explain how the girl was killed or what evidence was found at the scene.

Kelem said the police are investigating her death as a murder, adding that authorities have set up an information line for community members.

“This is an unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy, and we want to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” Leninkogel’s spokesman, Marty Maloney, told CNN in a statement. “We are working with the authorities, providing the help and support we can.”

Kelm warned that there may still be a danger to the public because authorities have no suspect in custody. “The simple fact is that we have not made an arrest in this case, so the suspect is still at large,” he said. “So in this case, we just want to be more vigilant and make sure that if there is any advice, anyone with any information, to go ahead and contact the guideline,” he said.

In a letter to parents on Monday afternoon, the Chippewa Falls Unified School District said its buildings are on “high alert,” but law enforcement has not indicated a need to close.

On Tuesday, police announced an increase in their presence around Chippewa Falls schools. The police department said in a statment.

The district recommends that students who go to school on foot and fall be picked up by trusted family members or friends “until further notice,” and asks parents to be “more vigilant and alert during this time.”

In a letter to school staff, officials asked teachers to “respect the family by not spreading rumours.” Teachers are also encouraged to ensure that older students are sensitive to younger students who may not know what happened.

Michael Hall, a senior chaplain at Valley Vineyard Church in Chippewa Falls, where Lilly’s relatives belong, said opening church doors to the community as a safe space for grieving, he said.

“Our mission is to reach out to our community in a positive way and be a beacon in Chippewa Falls during this difficult time,” he said. “We live in a very generous city. Our community comes together to meet the needs of family, community members, schools and first responders. This is just the beginning and it will be an ongoing process over the coming weeks.”

Kelm said multiple agencies are assisting with the investigation, including the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation and Wisconsin Crime Laboratories. Kelm said Lilly’s family works with victims’ advocates, and in the school district where she attended fourth grade. In a post on Facebook It “works closely with the police”.

CNN’s Alisha Ibrahimji and Rebecca Reese contributed to this report.

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