'We want to give her her name back': OPP plea for information in death of young girl found in the Grand River

Ontario provincial police are asking for the public’s help, as they continue to investigate the death of a young girl whose body was found in the Grand River in Dunnville.

“It’s going to take the community to identify this little girl,” Detective Inspector Shawn Glassford told CTV Kitchener on Monday.

“We need people that were aware of a little girl who’s suddenly not accounted for. It could be family members, it could be relatives of some sort, neighbours, maybe a landlord — anybody,” he said. “Anybody that hasn’t seen a little girl for a while, please call.”

On Friday, OPP released new information from a post-mortem physical examination.

They believe the girl was between the ages of 10-and-a-half months to two-and-a-half-years old at the time of her death.

Her body was found by people fishing in the Grand River on May 17. Emergency responders arrived around 1:22 p.m.

Glassford said they hope to have pathology results from the autopsy “as soon as possible.”

He’s also hopeful those results will tell them how long the girl’s body had been in the water, and when she could have died.

A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Investigators have been working through the long weekend, and Glassford said they are following up on every tip they get.

“We have a very good, dedicated, professional group of investigators, most of them parents themselves -- as I am,” he said. “And as difficult it is, we’re motivated to find out what happened to this little girl. We want to give her her name back.”

Police are not limiting the investigation to the Dunnville area.

“There’s nothing saying this little girl is from the area,” said Glassford. “We’ve searched the shores of the Grand River all the way up to the Caledonia area. That’s a long stretch of river.”

He said they have also followed up on tips from as far away as the United States.

"I just really feel bad for the little girl," one resident said. "Whatever happened to her, I wish they would come clean if it happened that way. A little girl like that is too young to leave this world."

On Monday, the community of Dunnville held a candlelight vigil for the girl.

"I just pray that someone will come forward and claim her," another resident said. "Hopefully they'll find out who she is, maybe this will bring it to light to all those around."

Authorities have set up a special tip line for any information someone feels might be relevant to the investigation.

“Just call the tip line if you happen to have any information. Even if it’s a little bit of information and you don’t feel it’s worthy of calling in - let us decide that. Call it in,” said Glassford.

Residents are asked to call 1-844-677-9403, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Child death investigation continues. The #OPP need YOUR help with identifying a female child that was located deceased in the #GrandRiver.
Anyone with info, please call the TIP line at 1-844-677-9403 or @hncrimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477. @HaldimandCounty #HaldimandOPP ^es pic.twitter.com/vKfq635xzB

— OPP West Region (@OPP_WR) May 23, 2022