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Homicide suspected as bodies of two girls pulled from South Florida canal

They were found separately, hours apart, and one is believed to be 10 to 13. No parents had come forward to report a missing child.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jun. 23

LAUDERHILL — The bodies of two young girls were found, hours apart, in a South Florida canal, and investigators are treating the case as a homicide.

The body of the first girl, who detectives said was between the ages of 10 and 13, was spotted Tuesday afternoon outside a condominium complex in Lauderhill, which is near Fort Lauderdale. The second body was found just before 9 p.m., not far from where the first body was located.

Police said no parents had come forward to say their child was missing by late Tuesday night. At first, authorities did not suspect foul play because the first girl showed no signs of trauma. The second girl’s body was still in the water late Tuesday night as detectives continued their investigation.

“It’s a very complicated case with a lot of moving parts,” Lauderhill police Lt. Michael Santiago said during a news conference.

He said investigators believe they have identified the first child, but have not been able to confirm her identity because the family had not been notified.

After the first body was found, detectives walked the length of the canal that runs behind the Habitat II Condominiums, but did not find anything else, Santiago said. Then, at 8:45 p.m., police received a 911 call from someone who spotted the second child’s body.

The first child was wearing jean shorts and a gray shirt that had rainbow lettering of the word “Dance.” She wore her hair in twists and did not have on shoes. The second child was wearing a tan shirt and flowered pajama bottoms, WPLG reported, citing police.

On Tuesday afternoon, detectives knocked on doors in the neighborhood, asking neighbors if they knew the little girl. Police believe she lived at the complex, the South Florida SunSentinel reported.

Neighbors told the newspaper the child had been seen with another girl about her age Monday. And that they saw a woman swimming in the canal Monday night and reading the Bible not far from the spot where the first body was found. Santiago confirmed the witness accounts, the SunSentinel reported.

Santiago said investigators are tracking down all leads.

Lawna Johnson, 51, told the newspaper she was sitting near the canal Tuesday when she spotted the body in the water.

“It’s just upsetting,” she said. “I see things on TV; I ain’t never seen something real like that.”