CANTON, Ga. — A body found in a trash container is believed to be that of a 7-year-old girl who went missing last week from an apartment complex playground north of Atlanta, authorities said Monday.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said that “everything points to it being” Jorelys Rivera of Canton. Bankhead said officials were awaiting results of an autopsy to confirm the identity and a cause of death.
Bankhead said the body appeared to have been severely beaten and sexually assaulted. He said the girl’s mother had been notified. No suspects were in custody as of Monday night. The girl’s mother returned to the apartment complex early Monday evening. Crying, the woman entered the family’s apartment and a family friend asked for privacy.
The child was last seen around 5 p.m. Friday at the River Ridge apartments in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, Canton police Detective Candy Worthy said. The girl was at the playground with a teenage baby sitter. The girl had gone back to her apartment to get sodas for friends when she disappeared, authorities said.
Authorities brought in a specialized team of law officers trained to handle child abductions. The body was located about 1 p.m. Monday.
Canton Emergency Management Director Jeff Hall said authorities had not searched the container until Monday because it was a large garbage compacting bin that needed to be moved off site so they could go through it. Bankhead, the GBI spokesman, said investigators think the girl was killed at the apartment complex and her body left in the trash bin. Authorities planned to provide an update on the investigation this morning.
Maria Rodriguez works with Rivera’s mother at a nearby poultry plant and used to live in the same complex. “She was a very sweet girl,” Rodriguez said, crying as she held her 4-year-old daughter.
Police have removed two other young children from the Rivera home over “concern about the supervision of Jorelys,” said Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.