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Homicide Suspected as Girl's Body Is Found in Va.


Josh White

Washington Post

A girl was found dead yesterday in the shallow, frigid waters of a Woodbridge area creek bed, and Prince William County police said they believe the body is that of a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl who disappeared this week.

Police said last night that they are treating Alexis "Lexie" Glover's death as a homicide but declined to provide details about the condition of the body for fear of jeopardizing the investigation. Police said that it is unclear how Lexie ended up in the creek or how long she had been in the water but that it is highly unlikely she found her own way there.

Lexie disappeared Wednesday afternoon from the parking lot of the Manassas Central Community Library, setting off a search that included dogs, helicopters and teams of volunteers going door-to-door. But after 48 hours, it was a man out for an afternoon walk who discovered the body in a creek separated from the library by eight miles of woods and waterways, a distance that would have been at least 11 miles by road.

Senior police officials said last night that Lexie, with illnesses and mental disabilities, probably would not have been able to cover that much ground in just two days, especially in cold weather. Police did not receive any credible reports of her being seen along the route.

"We are asking people to think back to Wednesday, to think if they saw a little African American girl getting into a car or talking to someone in the area of the library," said Maj. Ray Colgan. "We're asking people to think of something that might not have been suspicious at the time but seems suspicious now."

Authorities removed the body from the creek, which is in a secluded area behind the county's government complex and near Asdee Lane and Greatbridge Road, late yesterday and were waiting for a medical examiner's findings to explain what happened to her.

"We're looking at all possibilities, including the possibility that somebody brought her here," said 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, a police spokeswoman.

Lexie's family has said in recent days that she was autistic and had health problems, acting much younger than her age. Her mother, Freedia Glover, told WJLA-TV (Channel 7) that Lexie had run away before and that she liked to hide from those searching for her.

Those tendencies led her family to go to the Prince William Sheriff's Office for enrollment in its Project Lifesaver program, which provides at-risk people with bracelets so authorities can track them if they wander off. Deputy Joseph Sutton, who coordinates the program in Prince William, said Lexie received a bracelet March 11, days after the program's official launch. Sutton said authorities had previously been called out to search for her twice in the past 10 months.

The bracelets give off a radio frequency that can be pinpointed in minutes. Six Prince William residents, all children, wear them, Sutton said.

But Lexie had apparently figured out how to remove the bracelet, which officials said is not easy. On one of her previous runaways, Lexie managed to free herself and leave the bracelet, though she was found nearby. On Wednesday, sheriff's deputies found Lexie's bracelet on the ground not far from the library within 20 minutes of receiving word that she was missing, but they found no other trace of her.

Police said Lexie had been found other times hiding in a doghouse and in a neighbor's home. Authorities used a county calling system to ask residents in 31,000 Prince William homes to search their garages, sheds and other hiding places for Lexie.

Worried that without her medication Lexie could become disoriented or confused, police and family members believed they had a short timeframe in which to find her safely. The weather was also a serious concern as temperatures dipped well below freezing in the Manassas area each of the previous two nights and the girl was last seen wearing bluejeans, a sweater and tennis shoes.

Lexie's family was notified of the discovery yesterday afternoon, and a police officer outside the Glover home said the family was declining to speak publicly.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said last night that abduction homicides are "very rare" but that children who run away from home become far more vulnerable and are relatively easy targets for those who would harm them.

"We view kids with significant medical issues as endangered runaways because the risks are compounded," Allen said. "The reality is, when a child is away from home, they are enormously vulnerable."

Police ask anyone with information about Lexie to call 866-411-TIPS (8477).

Staff writer Jonathan Mummolo contributed to this report.

2009 Jan 10