New details, call for help in ID’ing Deer Island girl
Artists’ rendering depicts child found on Deer Island
The girl whose body was found on a Deer Island beach last week was partially wrapped in a zebra-striped fleece blanket and wore white leggings with black polka dots, authorities said Thursday.
The mystery of the unidentified girl, who was concealed in an industrial-style trash bag, has generated dozens of tips since her body was discovered on June 25, but no strong leads. The medical examiner has not determined how she died or identified any injuries that could have killed her, said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
On Thursday afternoon, investigators stood at a grassy spot near where the grisly discovery was made, and shared new information about the girl and her death at a briefing for the news media. They expressed hope that providing pictures of the blankets and leggings, and a computer-generated image of the girl’s face will lead them to an important clue: her name.
“It’s been one week, and we don’t know who this is,” Conley said. “If she looked . . . anything like this in real life, I think we all know she’s a beautiful child, and she deserves dignity here.”
The image of the girl, who is believed to have been about 4 years old, and white or Hispanic, was created by forensic artists at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.
They used photographs taken at the girl’s autopsy to develop the rendering, said Robert G. Lowery Jr., vice president of the nonprofit organization’s Missing Children Division.
He said the investigation is focused on the Boston area, though the child may be from elsewhere.
“We think it’s a very strong likeness of this child,” Lowery said by phone. “We’re hoping that it will be the key to the identification. It usually is in these kind of cases.”
The leggings are size 4T. They were made by Circo, and are sold at Target stores, investigators said.
The blanket was made by Cannon and is sold at Kmart stores. The blanket, Conley said, “may be very special to this little girl.”
Investigators believe the toddler had been dead for a short time when she was discovered, but they cannot say exactly when she died, Conley said. He said they still do not know whether her body washed up on shore or was left there by someone who had gone to Deer Island, which is connected to Winthrop, by land or sea.
Toxicology reports that may explain the cause of her death are pending, Conley said.
“It’s premature for us to say at this point whether or not any charges will be issued in this case,” Conley said. “She may have died of a natural death. We don’t know the answer to that question yet. Her remains were found in a way that I would suggest is unnatural, and certainly worthy of our investigation.”
Conley said a day-care provider, preschool teacher, pediatrician, shopkeeper, or people who frequent parks might have information about a child they once saw regularly but who is now gone.
State Police Major Frank Hughes urged people to ask questions if they notice a child is missing from family gatherings during the July Fourth weekend.
“If they see a family that is missing a child that fits the description of this young lady, pay a little more attention than normal. Maybe ask a few questions to see where the child may be,” he said.
Officials want to know whether there are other children who lived with the girl, Conley said.
“If her caretakers, her parents, her providers have other children in the home, it’s important for us to find out who they are, and make sure there are no other children in the home that need our protection,” he said.
Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty said detectives will be working throughout the holiday weekend.
“We’re working very hard on this particular case,” he said. “I don’t think any of the agencies will rest until we get this case resolved.”
The girl’s body was found about 1 p.m. June 25 by a woman walking her dog.
Investigators have said the girl stood about 3½ feet tall, and had brown eyes. She weighed just over 30 pounds, average for her height, and had brown hair about 14 inches long.
Her body was found next to a public walkway that extends 2.6 miles, and near a waste-water treatment plant run by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
MWRA employees have been shaken by the girl’s death, and are planning to put a children’s bench and a tree near where she was found, said Susan Brazil, a Winthrop resident who has worked for the agency for 25 years.
“I’ve never seen the employees as affected by anything as they were . . . by this situation. They were so sad,” Brazil said.
A makeshift memorial sits on rocks overlooking the beach. After the news conference, several investigators and a prosecutor walked to the site and conferred as the Boston skyline gleamed in the background.