Provincial police say it will be some time before a post-mortem examination will reveal more details about a girl whose remains were found earlier this week in a river in southern Ontario.
OPP Det.-Insp. Shawn Glassford was in Haldimand County on Friday when he shared new details with CBC. The autopsy was scheduled for Thursday in Toronto.
Emergency services were called to the river in Dunnville on Tuesday afternoon after the human remains were found, and police initially thought the girl was between one and four years old.
Glassford now says she was between 10 months and two years old, but hopes it can be narrowed down even more.
Haldimand County Deputy Mayor Bernie Corbett said on Thursday that the community is “in shock and seeking information on how something like this could have happened.”
Glassford said it is still unclear how long the girl was in the water and whether the body may have moved with the current from another place. He said police are working with the Grand River Conservation Authority to find out.
They are also searching for missing persons outside the sleepy town about 55 miles southeast of Hamilton, close to where the Grand River meets Lake Erie.
“We’re looking for missing children…really all over Canada and the United States,” Glassford said, adding that tips have come in from across the province and the US.
Glassford said that while police want to talk to someone, he stressed that people need to remember if anyone — neighbors, landlords, relatives and others — may have abruptly left where they lived.
“This is a case where we need the help of the public.”
Residents call find ‘very sad news’
Maggie Cole, 27, manager of Queens Merritt Room, a restaurant close to the riverbank where police searched the city of 12,000 this week, called the discovery “very sad news”.
“Dunnville is a very small town, so when something like that comes up, that’s about all we can talk about,” Cole said.
Police said on Wednesday that the remains appear to have been in the water for some time and they do not believe there is a threat to public safety. Haldimand County OPP, the Ontario Coroner and the OPP’s Forensic Identification Service are investigating.
Earlier in the week, members of the OPP’s search and recovery unit were seen in the area, with officers on a boat, ashore and in the water combing the river. Officers assisting the search from shore held what looked like a rope stretched across the waterway.
Wasyl Luczkiw, 28, whose family owns the Grand River Marina and Cafe, said police initially used the company’s property as a staging area and used one of the boats to search before taking their own. The marina is just across the river from Queens Merritt Room, on an island in the river.
“They usually launch in the provincial park when they’re doing water patrols, but I guess the docks weren’t there, so they came here,” he said. “It’s quite surprising and shocking and sad to hear that someone has lost a loved one. Hopefully they can find a solution.”
Cole said police entered her restaurant on Thursday and asked for security footage of the river.
“All day long I saw cops driving around,” she told CBC Hamilton on Thursday. “A helicopter flew over the river to Cayuga yesterday.”
The Grand River runs from Dufferin Highlands, north of Guelph, to Lake Erie and stretches for approximately 310 miles in total.
Police have set up a special tip line in connection with the find. Anyone with information is requested to call 1-844-677-9403. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or contact them online at: www.helpsolvecrime.com†
“We just want to know who this little girl is. We want to give her her name back,” Glassford said.