HAMILTON TWP., Ohio — After an hours-long search for missing 4-year-old Emrie Schandorf-Woode in Hamilton Township on Sunday, authorities discovered her body in a pond near her home, according to Hamilton Twp. Police Chief Scott Hughes.
"Our worst fears came true," he said during a press conference at 8:30 p.m. "Just before 8, the dive team and the folks in the boats were scanning around the outside of the pond near where the rocks were and unfortunately they found Emrie's body there in the pond."
Several police and fire agencies from surrounding counties and cities, including the FBI, searched diligently alongside Hamilton Township community members to find the young girl, who was missing for just under eight hours in the Turning Leaf subdivision.
"This, this sucks, right?" said Hughes, fighting tears. "This just sucks. I mean, she was, she was four years old. There's nothing really you can say."
Hamilton Township police said Emrie was last seen around 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. At a 4:45 p.m. press conference, Hughes said footage from a security camera showed Emrie walking away from her driveway with no shoes on.
Police said they were told Emrie liked to visit the pond to feed the fish with her parents and suspected she may have headed in that direction after leaving her home.
Hughes said later they found a witness who spotted Emrie in the area of the neighborhood near the pond around the time she went missing.
"Early, when she first went missing ... we had a couple dogs and the dogs kind of led us up this way," Hughes said.
Officials aren't sure how exactly Emrie died and won't until the coroner's office releases its findings. Throughout the search, Hughes said there was no indication she'd been taken or led away and they didn't suspect foul play played a part in her disappearance or death.
Hughes said the community should be commended for the high turnout and determined efforts during the search, including fire and police from multiple townships, cities and counties in the area.
"This community just came together," he said. "We've gotta keep the family in our thoughts and prayers."
Dozens of neighbors and community members joined the search efforts early on, combing nearby woods and yards and driving through the neighborhoods, calling Emrie's name for hours.
"We've looked, we went through the woods, we looked everywhere we could," said Kaitlin Neumann, one of the many community members who helped with the search. "Like, anywhere you walked you were running into people. Everyone was driving."
Sunday evening, Little Miami Schools tweeted about Emrie's death, expressing their condolences for the young girl's family and asking the Panther Nation to lift up her family.
It is with the deepest sadness that we share the tragic news of the death of one of our young Panthers, Emrie Schandorf-Woode. Our thoughts & heartfelt condolences are with the Shandorf-Woode family & friends during this time. Panther Nation let us come together & lift them up. pic.twitter.com/Yf64m7yhX6— Little Miami Schools (@LM_Schools) August 23, 2021