An autopsy has been completed on a girl believed to be between 8 and 13 years old whose body was found partially inside a large duffel bag near an equestrian trail in the Hacienda Heights area and the coroner’s office has ruled the manner of death as a homicide, sheriff’s officials said Friday.
There was no word on the cause of the girl’s death.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released a composite sketch of the girl on Wednesday, along with photos of the pink long-sleeve top with the words “Future Princess Hero” and gray pants with pandas on them that she was wearing when her body was found.
The sheriff’s department reported late Thursday morning that the victim is not Skylar Mannie, a 13-year-old girl who was last seen in Lancaster on Feb. 14.
The girl found in Hacienda Heights was described as black, about 4 feet 5 inches tall and 55 pounds.
County workers clearing some brush in the area south of Hacienda Boulevard and Glenmark Drive, just below a Buddhist temple, came across the youngster’s remains about 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“It’s a sad moment for the department, for the community, and we’re going to do our best to figure out what led to the suspicious death of the child involved,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a Wednesday news conference. “I’ve directed the investigators to spare no effort to find out what happened.”
The girl’s body was “found partially inside of a black roll-away type duffel bag,” with her head and upper body protruding from the partially zipped bag, according to sheriff’s Lt. Scott Hoglund.
“Investigators did not observe any obvious signs of trauma to the victim’s body,” he said.
Hogland said investigators believe the body was left in light brush adjacent to the equestrian trail in the late evening hours Sunday, and appealed to the public for help if anyone saw anything suspicious on Hacienda Boulevard — including a vehicle pulled over to the side — during that time frame or recognizes the composite sketch of the girl or the clothing she was wearing.
Investigators initially believed the child was between 7 and 10 years old, but now believe the girl — described as “skinny” and “small in nature” — may have been anywhere between 8 and 13 years old, according to the lieutenant.
Detectives have reached out to the county Department of Children’s Services and missing child organizations, along with school districts, to try to determine her identity, Hoglund said.
“At this point, we don’t have any leads. We don’t have any idea of who this child is,” Hoglund said, calling it a “horrible, tragic case.”
Investigators do not know if the girl was alive or dead when she was placed inside the bag, Hoglund said.
“The motive at this time is unknown,” Hoglund told reporters.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.