Salt Lake City residents are being warned to beware of a sexual predator after a six-year-old girl was found dead in a canal near her home.
Little Sierra Newbold was discovered one hour after her mother reported her missing in the suburb of West Jordan and following an autopsy report it was confirmed she had been sexually assaulted.
'At this time no suspects have been identified and we do not have any persons of interest,' said Police Chief Doug Diamond.
Scroll down for video
Tragedy: Six-year-old Sierra Newbold's death has been ruled a homicide Wednesday with an autopsy determining she had also been sexually assaulted
He added that while residents in the area shouldn’t panic, 'there’s obviously a predator out there.'
'Our highest priority now is to identify, arrest, and successfully prosecute the person or persons responsible for this crime,' said Diamond
'I share in the concern of our residents for the ongoing safety and security of our children.'
Twin boys, 4, found dead in pool by their father
'I love abusing this kid': Mother 'videoed assault and torment of ten-month-old baby and sent it to child's father'
The chief said he has increased police patrols in the area and is asking parents to take precautions to protect their children.
'If during the course of this investigation an imminent threat becomes known, we will share that information with our residents immediately,' he said.
Diamond said the girl’s parents have been cooperating in the investigation.
Officers found Sierra’s body in the canal about a block from her home, just 30 minutes after her mother “discovered she was not there and called us,” police Sgt. Drew Sanders said.
Sanders declined to comment on any possible motive in the case. Investigators also are withholding a precise chain of events leading to the girl’s disappearance.
'We haven’t come to any conclusion,” Sanders said. He said police have 'tons of leads' and 'it’s paramount we find out who did this.'
Police have said there were no signs of a break-in at the family’s home, and they declined to release any more details about the case.
Young life: Pictured, right, in the arms of her mother and beside her other sisters, Sierra played on her local soccer team and had just graduated kindergarten according to family
Child's life: Sierra, pictured, is described by family as outgoing, eager to make friends and who loved to dance and draw
'We don't have any idea' how Sierra disappeared or whether she was taken from the bedroom, her grandfather Reed Newbold told The Associated Press. 'It's a complete mystery.'
The parents 'are devastated by this,' he said. No working telephone number could be found for the parents. The grandfather declined to provide it.
Reed Newbold said the family isn't suspected of being involved in the girl's disappearance with them having been fully cooperative with investigators.
Surveillance footage taken of the area surrounding the girl's home is currently under investigation.
'Our contacts at the FBI have been helping us with that. They’ve been working on enhancing that [surveillance video],' Mr Sanders told Fox 13.
'Right now, we do know that there are images on there and our investigators are analyzing that and trying to determine what use those are and if any evidence exists,' he said.
He declined to say how long Sierra had been dead before discovered by police and if the autopsy was able to collect any DNA evidence, so as to not jeopardize their investigation, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Mr Sanders also declined to comment on any possible suspects or a motive in the case.
Crime scene: The child's body was found in this four-foot-deep irrigation canal near her home about 30 minutes after her mother reported her missing
Homicide: Signs of foul play to the girl's body were not reported prior to the autopsy results released on Wednesday
'We haven't come to any conclusion,' said Mr Sanders. He said police have 'tons of leads' and 'it's paramount we find out who did this.'
The girl's dad had left for work some time before her absence was noticed but her mother. Her younger sister and elder brother were also at home.
According to West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond on Tuesday, 'there was not a significant amount of trauma on the body,' he said speaking to the Tribune, leading to them being initially uncertain of whether foul play had occurred or not.
Mr Sanders dismissed a neighborhood rumor on Wednesday that the girl's disappearance was connected to a weekend grass fire that gutted two houses and drew onlookers to the girl's neighborhood.
Reed Newbold said the onlookers possibly widen the field of suspects.
However, police determined the house fires were 'completely unrelated' to the girl's disappearance, Mr Sanders said.
Missing: The girl's mother, pictured left with her husband, Sierra and other daughter, reported her missing from her bedroom in the early hours of Tuesday without any sign of a forced entry into their home
Tragic morning: Sierra is pictured on the shoulders of her father who had already left for work when she was found missing
Police have said there were no signs of a break-in at the family's home, located near 2400 West and 7100 South.
Officers cordoned off parts of the neighbourhood and searched rubbish bins for evidence that may help piece together what happened to the girl.
Dive teams were expected to be brought in to search the canal.
An announcement for the child's funeral scheduled for this Saturday described the child as quick to make friends while outgoing and a member of her local soccer team.
'She was eager to grow up, drive, and get her “very own” cell phone. She loved to draw and was an incredible artist at a very young age. She loved dancing, hiking, and being active. She loved life and lived it to the fullest,' it read.
'She had the amazing ability to make everyone happy with her big brown eyes and her beautiful smile.'
Sisters: Sierra's sister Taylor was said to be the six-year-old's best friend whom she did everything with. The two pictured together
School: Sierra's family said the girl was looking forward to starting the first grade at West Jordan Elementary, pictured
The West Jordan community, where two houses burned to the ground on Saturday after a tree fell on a power line, was mourning the death of the young girl as well.
Neighbour, Claire Evenson, whose daughter was a school friend of Sierra, told Deseret News residents were struggling to come to terms with the sudden loss.
She described the girl as smart and full of life and said she loved to dance and play dress ups.
'She was going to start first grade with my daughter,' Ms Evenson said.
'They were so excited for that. This is just hard for everyone to wrap their mind around.'
'We’re dedicated to trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Sierra,' Mr Diamond said during a news conference.
'Our hearts go out to the family of this young girl.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-21...l#ixzz1z4rlsqcu