(NewsNation) — A small town in Wisconsin is rocked by the murder of a 10-year-old girl. Lily Peters was found dead near a wooded trail in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, just north of Eau Claire.
The hunt for the fourth grader’s killer is on, and police say there may be a threat to the tight-knit community.
Lily Peters was reported missing at around 9 p.m. Sunday. The child’s father reported that she had not returned home from a visit to her aunt’s house on Grove Street about five blocks away.
As the investigation unfolded, police officers discovered a bicycle in the woods near the walking trail between the end of North Grove Street and a brewery parking lot. From there, numerous law enforcement agencies scoured the area searching for the child.
At around 9:15 a.m. Monday, the 10-year-old’s body was found in the wooded area near the walking trail.
Chippewa Falls Police called the killing a very rare occurrence for the town and warned people in the area to be on heightened alert.
“We have to be cognizant to the fact that it will require some additional vigilance here today,” the police chief said.
Police increased security around area schools and advised parents to have their children picked up by trusted family members or friends.
“Just knowing that she went down that trail and that was the same trail my kids walk down themselves all the time – It was a safe place until Sunday,” neighbor Shelby Machnik said.
The Chippewa Falls community is grappling with the heartwrenching news. Purple ribbons showing signs of support for Lily’s family are covering the town of around 14,000.
“The people of our community are honest, hardworking and kind-hearted. It is almost impossible to believe that something this horrific could happen in our city,” the police chief said.
The Chippewa Falls Police Department has not named a suspect or taken anyone into custody in connection to Lily’s death. Details of the ongoing investigation are limited since it has been classified as a homicide.
As investigators continue to comb through multiple leads potentially linked to Lily’s murder, they are urging anyone with information about Lily’s death to call 1-800-263-5906.