Police in Canada are trying to identify a young Black girl whose body was found in a Toronto dumpster, a grim discovery that has shaken the city and seasoned investigators looking into the case.
The Toronto police service announced on Thursday that the body, discovered on Monday in an affluent neighborhood, was that of a young Black girl, believed to be between the ages of four and seven.
Homicide investigators have been assigned to the case and are cross-referencing descriptions of the child with missing persons cases across the country, but acknowledge the child might not have been reported missing.
“Our first priority now is to establish the identity of this little girl. The investigators will leave no stone unturned,” Insp Hank Idsinga told reporters. “Kids don’t just die.”
A postmortem was conducted on Wednesday but police have not yet determined cause of death.
Police say the level of decomposition suggests the girl could have died as long ago as last summer.
Officers were called to a residential construction site in Rosedale, one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, on Monday. Officers found the girl’s body of her wrapped in a crocheted blanket inside a plastic bag, which was also wrapped in a blanket.
Police said the girl was of African or mixed African descent, was three and a half feet tall and had a slight build. She had four short ponytails, two of which were braided and tied with blue and black elastics.
Investigators believe her body was left at the construction site between 28 April and 2 May, a location near a highway and a close to an apartment building. While there are no cameras directly facing the dumpster, police have started collecting video from the surrounding area.
Toronto’s elder, John Tory, called the discovery an “unspeakable tragedy” and called on anyone who might recognize the blankets or know of a girl matching the police description to come forward.
Residents had already turned the front of the property into an impromptu memorial for the child. Some had placed flowers, another a card that read “Little one, we pray heaven has dried your tears.”
Idsinga said investigators would not stop until they have answers.
“We will get to the bottom of it, no matter what it takes.”