Kenzley Ava-LeAnn Olson was found dead on Wednesday, just hours after authorities issued an Amber Alert for the missing 1-year-old from Montana.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office made the grim announcement on Facebook, saying that the body of the missing girl was found in Poplar. They said one suspect is in custody, though police did not yet name the suspect.
Kenzley had last been seen on Tuesday around 12:30 p.m. Within hours of her disappearance police said they believed the missing girl had been abducted sometime that morning.
Her disappearance became national news, with the Nancy Grace show sharing the story on Twitter and many others spreading the word about Kenzley’s disappearance.
Police had initially said they believe that Kenzley Olson was with either Melinda Tweet or Timothy Dornheim, but apprehended the couple and in an update Wednesday afternoon said the two had nothing to do with the infant’s disappearance.
“The person arrested in connection to the death of Kenzley Olson is neither Melinda Tweet nor Timothy Dornheim,” police announced. “Both Tweet and Dornheim have been cleared of any involvement in this incident.”
A county spokesman said Kenzley’s cause of death has not yet been determined, adding that the FBI is now leading the investigation.
Before finding the girl’s body, police had sealed off several blocks in Poplar, rerouting traffic and closing the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 2, the Great Falls Tribune reported. Police were seen searching nearby homes and yards, the report added.
There were a number of police agencies involved in the search for Kenzley Ava-LeAnn Olson, including the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Peck Tribes Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol, the Montana Highway Patrol, and local tribal agencies.
Residents in Montana and North Dakota received a series of Amber Alerts for Kenzley Ava-LeAnn Olson, with the first coming Wednesday at close to 2 a.m.
As the Great Falls Tribune noted, it was the second child kidnapping on the reservation in the last two months. A 4-year-old, Maci Lilley, was abducted from a playground in Wolf Point in February and discovered hours later. Police arrested 20-year-old John “Billy” Lieba II, charging him with felony kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and attempted murder. He is currently being held in jail without bond.
Many people in the community had joined in the search for Lilley, and authorities said there was fading hope that the girl might be found alive.
“I think that we all had in the back of our minds thinking the worst, but this is the best possible thing that could have happened,” said Lee Allmer, public information officer for Roosevelt County (via Missoulian).
Many volunteers again came out early this week to search for Kenzley Olson. Police did not yet reveal how they came to find the girl’s body.
The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office said it will release more details on the murder of 1-year-old Kenzley Ava-LeAnn Olson when they are available.
[Picture by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]