The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday night that the death of an unidentified Black girl in Hacienda Heights was a homicide. Her body was found in a duffel bag three days earlier near a horse and hiking trail. Her identity was still unknown.
Deputy Marvin Crowder said the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner called about 8:30 p.m. Friday to notify the sheriff’s office about the status update, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported on Saturday. It was previously designated a suspicious death investigation.
The coroner did not offer any information about what led to the new status. Authorities also did not disclose whether a full autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death. Investigators sealed the report, preventing public access.
This ruling confirmed what many had already suspected since the girl’s body was discovered on Tuesday—she was killed intentionally.
The sheriff’s office released this statement about the case, “The victim was found partially inside a black rollaway type duffle bag … where her upper body was seen protruding. Although preliminary investigation initially led investigators to believe the victim was between the ages of seven and 10 years, further investigation with the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner determined the victim was a Black female between the ages of eight and 13. The young girl was found to be wearing a pink, long sleeve shirt with gray panda print pants (actual clothing depicted). She stood approx. 4 ft, 5 inch. tall and weighed about 55 lbs. No obvious signs of trauma were found on the victim’s body.”
Workers found her body in some bushes on the popular trail. Investigators believe she was dumped there on the skyline trail sometime on the evening of March 3. Authorities were uncertain how long she had been dead or how she was killed.
Dozens of people held a vigil Thursday night in Hacienda Heights.
“It breaks my heart, it just breaks my heart,” Marlene Contreras, one of the vigil’s organizers, told local station KCBS-TV. “When things like this happen, we need to come together and be a voice for this little girl, especially since she doesn’t have a family, I think it’s important that she’s everybody’s child.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva vowed that his investigators will “spare no efforts to find out what happened.”