Photo from Burnett County sheriff's office
DANBURY, Wis. - With dozens of volunteers hanging on every word, Burnett County Sheriff Dean Roland broke the horrible news Wednesday evening.
"At approximately 4:50 (Wednesday), searches located the body of 3-year-old Reena Williams," Roland said as volunteers started crying behind him.
Roland said Williams was last seen by her father around 6 p.m. Tuesday night barefoot, playing with the family dog.
About an hour to an hour and half later, she was reported missing and the frantic search began.
"She's like family," said friend Grace Schara about little Reena.
Schara joined hundreds who searched Tuesday night and all day Wednesday through thick woods still littered with debris from last year's storms.
"It is just a mess. It's hectic just to walk through," Schara said of the downed timber. "It's nasty."
Reena's mother, Jenna Danish still seemed to hold out hope earlier in the day.
"She don't ever go in the woods by herself. She don't go off by herself, she knows better," she told KARE 11. "For three years old she knows her boundaries. She's very smart."
But late Wednesday afternoon, the Danbury dive team found her daughter's body in a canal about 25-yards from her house.
"This is horrible," said an emotional Diana Naylor.
Naylor says she and another neighbor found Williams wondering barefoot Tuesday evening about a mile from her house around 5:30.
"We were so worried and we told the little girl never to do that again," said Naylor. She said the neighbor brought her back home only for her to wander off again.
Sheriff Roland would not say if Williams' body showed any signs of foul play and is calling the situation an open investigation. He says the family is cooperating.
Investigators haven't ruled anything out and that's why officials are draining the canal where the little girl was found dead in hopes of finding any clues. An autopsy is also scheduled in the coming days which Roland says is standard procedure in this type of case.
Clearly shaken up, Reena's mother didn't want to answer any questions Wednesday evening, but she did want to send a message to the hundreds who came to help.
"I just want thank everyone for helping out for the generous offers to try to locate my daughter. I appreciate everything this community has done," she said.
It's a community clearly shaken along with her. "It's a tragic situation. A precious life has been lost," said Roland who started to cry.
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