Investigators searching for the identity of the little girl whose body was found on a Deer Island beach in late June are “in awe” of the help they are receiving from the public, who are sending in a flood of tips about the toddler’s possible identity, said State Police Colonel Timothy Alben.
“When I left last night, we had over 24 million — 24 million — views of our posting on Facebook. So obviously the public is very engaged in this,” Alben told reporters Saturday during an Esplanade security briefing. A spokesperson said the views on the posting about the girl had since climbed to about 33 million.
“We generated a lot of conversations, if you will, on social media, and our team is working on sifting through all that information to try to find a viable lead,” said Alben.
The unidentified girl was discovered June 25 in a trash bag by a woman walking a dog. The cause of her death has not been determined. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children used autopsy photos to create a computer-generated image of the girl, believed to be about 4 years old and white or Hispanic.
The medical examiner has not identified any injuries that could have killed her, officials said.
The child’s body was wrapped in a zebra-striped fleece blanket and wore polka dot leggings, officials said.
About 34,000 comments have been left on the State Police posting, said spokesman David Procopio in an e-mail. There have been a few dozen “actual, actionable leads,” he said, coming from social media, calls to detectives, and at least one medical facility.
Investigators have ruled out a link to several cases already, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is helping detectives follow up on leads.
Officials are asking the public to keep the child in mind as they look around their neighborhoods and gatherings, said Procopio. But they also want medical professionals to be vigilant, and for landlords to keep an eye out for families they rent to that once had a child in the apartment who has since vanished.
The key, Alben said, is to keep the public engaged.
“Somebody knows who this child is,” said Alben, noting that the picture circulating of the toddler is a likeness, not a photograph, and the real girl may look slightly different. “The important thing, I think, is the clothing articles and the blanket there. Someone’s gonna remember this. That might be the lead we’re looking for.”
He asked people to keep sharing the girl’s image and talking about the case.
“We need the public’s help,” he said. “It’s been extraordinary so far.”