It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer. Coroner Gary Hargrove said Janaya's body was found in a bathroom.
Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan said four dogs and six people from Gulf Coast Search and Rescue helped in the search efforts. Authorities said the dogs were used for most of the night and returned to the search around daylight after police developed a new plan.
Gulfport Police Sgt. Damon McDaniel said the search dogs eventually alerted officers to the location of the body using the scent of Janaya's clothes.
"This is a tragedy, not a story," Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said as he briefed news crews at Bel-Aire Elementary Thursday morning.
Around noon, the coroner removed a child's body from the trailer. Shortly after that, Coroner Hargrove confirmed everyone's worst fears.
Shocked family members and friends gathered around the trailer on Whitney Drive Wednesday; Many tried to console Janaya's dad, Jarmal Thompson. He told us he was trying to remain strong.
"I lost my best friend today and how the situation is, I'm pretty sure to knowing what happened. That's what's upsetting me. A sick person, they always going to be sick. They can't help that," Thompson said.
Support for the family started the moment Janaya went missing Wednesday night. More than 100 people took part the desperate overnight search for the child.
Friends say Janaya just graduated from the Isiah Fredericks Head Start Center in May. They described her as a happy, social little girl.
"It's very sad that someone would do such a tragic thing to a child. She's very innocent, loving. You know, she stayed at my house many a nights. I dated her grandfather, and so she was at my house all the time," said Shonda Reid. "Her and my 5-year-old grew up together, and it breaks my heart to have to experience this first hand. It's very saddening."
Tracy White lives in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer is located. He said it was abandoned two weeks ago.
"A couple of adults and a couple of children were there," stated White. "They always had people living there. A lot of people."
Right now, police say they do not have a suspect in the case. They do want to thank the more than 100 people who turned out all night and Thursday morning to search for Janaya.
Authorities say they have not developed any suspects at this time. If you have any information about this case, call Gulfport Police at (228) 868-5959.
"This tragedy has rocked the foundation of our community." With those words, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said what so many were feeling Thursday as news broke about the death of Janaya Thompson.More >
"This tragedy has rocked the foundation of our community." With those words, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said what so many in Gulfport and on the entire Gulf Coast were feeling Thursday as news broke about the death of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson.More >