Hamilton

Girl whose remains were found in southern Ontario waters was younger than first thought: OPP

The southern Ontario community where a girl's remains were found in a river this week is "in shock and is searching for information on how such a thing could happen," Haldimand County’s deputy mayor said Thursday. OPP shared new details with CBC on Friday.

Girl was between 10 months and 2 years old, police say about remains found Tuesday in Dunville's Grand River

Shock, sadness in Ontario town after body of young girl found

3 months ago
Duration 1:59
People in the community of Dunnville, Ont., are searching for answers after crews discovered the body of a young girl in the Grand River. Forensic tests continue as investigators try to determine the girl’s identity.

Provincial police say it will take some time for a post-mortem investigation to reveal more details about a girl whose remains were found in a southern Ontario river earlier this week.

OPP Det.-Insp. Shawn Glassford was in Haldimand County on Friday when he shared new details with CBC. The post-mortem was scheduled for Thursday in Toronto.

Emergency crews were called to the river in Dunnville on Tuesday afternoon after the human remains were found, and police initially thought the girl was between one and four years old.

Glassford now says she was between 10 months and two years old, but hopes it can be narrowed down even more.

Haldimand County's deputy mayor, Bernie Corbett, said Thursday the community is "in shock and is searching for information on how such a thing could happen."

Glassford said it's still unclear how long the girl was in the water and whether the body may have moved with the current from a different place. He said police are working with the Grand River Conservation Authority to figure that out.

OPP Det.-Insp. Shawn Glassford says police are trying to identify a young girl found in the Grand River in Dunnville, Ont. (Doug Husby/CBC News)

They're also combing through missing-persons cases beyond the sleepy town about 55 kilometres southeast of Hamilton, close to where the Grand River meets Lake Erie. 

"We're looking for missing children ... really across Canada and the United States," Glassford said, adding tips have come in from across the province and the U.S.

Glassford said while police are looking to speak to anyone, he emphasized people to try to recall if anyone — neighbours, landlords, family members and others — may have abruptly left where they were living.

"This is a case where we need the public's help."

Residents say discovery is 'very sad news' 

Maggie Cole, 27, manager of Queens Merritt Room, a restaurant close to the riverbank where police were searching this week in the town of 12,000, called the discovery "very sad news." 

"Dunnville is a very small town, so when something like this comes up, it's pretty much all we can talk about," Cole said.

Police said Wednesday the remains appear to have been in the water for some time and they don't believe there is a threat to public safety. Haldimand County OPP, the Ontario coroner's office and the OPP's forensic identification service are investigating. 

Members of the OPP's search and recovery unit were seen in the area earlier this week, with officers on a boat, on shore and in the water combing the river. (CBC News)

Earlier in the week, members of the OPP's search and recovery unit could be seen in the area, with officers on a boat, on shore and in the water combing the river. Officers assisting in the search from shore held what appeared to be a rope stretched across the waterway.

Wasyl Luczkiw, 28, whose family owns the Grand River Marina and Cafe, said police initially used the business's property as a staging area and used one of its boats to search before bringing their own. The marina is across the river from Queens Merritt Room, on an island in the river.

"They usually launch at the provincial park when they do water patrol, but I think the docks weren't in so they came here," he said. "It's pretty surprising and shocking and sad to hear that somebody lost a loved one. Hopefully they can find closure."

Cole said police came into her restaurant Thursday asking about security footage of the river. 

"All through today, I've seen cops driving around," she told CBC Hamilton on Thursday. "There was a helicopter yesterday that flew over the river down to Cayuga."

The Grand River runs from Dufferin Highlands, north of Guelph, to Lake Erie, stretching about 310 kilometres in total.

Police have set up a special tip line related to the discovery. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-844-677-9403. Callers who want to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or reach out online at www.helpsolvecrime.com.

"We just want to find out who this little girl is. We want to give her her name back," Glassford said.

With files from Bobby Hristova, Dan Taekema and Ali Chiasson

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