Less than 12 hours after issuing an Amber Alert about a child who was not taken home by her father after school, RCMP said the man and the seven-year-old girl have been found dead.
Saskatchewan RCMP said they found the body of Nia Eastman, 7, in a home in the community of Choiceland around 12:45 p.m. CST Thursday.
An Amber Alert had been issued early Thursday morning after her father, Adam Jay Eastman, failed to return Nia to her mother's custody the night before.
Eastman, suspected of abducting Nia, was found dead around 5:30 a.m. CST in a rural area near Smeaton in the northeast part of the province.
He died of self-inflicted injuries, RCMP said. He was found not far from a vehicle and near some property he owned in the area.
"This was not the outcome all of us were hoping for and our thoughts are with the family and communities," RCMP Insp. Jennifer Ebert said at a brief media conference from the Mounties' Saskatchewan division headquarters in Regina.
'Sweetest little girl I ever met.' - Soccer coach Brentan Dom
"All of us were hoping and praying Nia would be located safely. This is the goal we have every time we ask the public and media for their help during an Amber Alert. This is a difficult day."
Ebert said investigators met with the family and have made sure that victim supports are available to them.
As the day unfolded, people in the community were visibly distraught about what they were learning.
Vicki Starkell, who went to Smeaton with others to see if she could help, said she was very concerned about what the girl's mother was experiencing.
"We hope God wraps his arms around you and gets you though this," Starkell said. "I couldn't imagine. Just devastating."
RCMP said their investigation will examine what took place between the time Nia was picked up from school and the discovery of her body Thursday, but they do not believe anyone else was involved in Nia's death and are not seeking additional suspects.
"Autopsies have been ordered for Nia and Adam Eastman to assist with determining the time and cause of death," Ebert added.
'Sweetest little girl': Soccer coach
"Sweetest little girl I ever met," said Brentan Daum, who coached Nia in soccer and called her kind and shy.
Daum recalled her glee after she learned how to kick a soccer ball.
"How excited she got when she kicked it right and got it into the net," he said. "She just started cheering and was really happy."
He said everyone in the community will be affected by what happened.
"Everyone here ... knows each other. This event is not just going to affect the family, it's going to affect everyone here."
The child was found in a home in Choiceland, about 15 kilometres from where Eastman was located and about a block away from her school. Eastman had been renting the home since he and Nia's mother separated this past summer.
According to RCMP, a vehicle believed to have been operated by Eastman was located on a rural property east of Smeaton — a community about 220 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon — about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The RCMP closed the highway between Smeaton and Choiceland and police spent the day searching, with dog teams and an unmanned aerial vehicle also being used.
Eastman accused of assault
Provincial court officials confirmed that Eastman had a matter before the courts as recently as Wednesday. According to court information, Eastman was charged Aug. 26, when it is alleged he committed a domestic assault on Crystal Eastman, the child's mother.
According to people who knew them, the couple had separated several months ago and were living in different communities.
Support for local school
Nia was a student at William Mason School in Choiceland and officials said crisis and trauma response teams were available Thursday afternoon to help students and staff deal with the tragedy.
There are no classes Friday because of the Remembrance Day holiday.
The teams will be back in the school on Monday.
The Amber Alert program is an urgent bulletin system that is activated in some cases of child abduction.
A previous version of this story stated that the home where Nia's body was found was not connected to the family. However, the house was actually the one that Eastman had been renting since he and Nia's mother separated this past summerNov 11, 2016 4:31 PM CT