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Girl, 6, was ‘asphyxiated before her body was dumped in the woods’, autopsy reveals

A six-year-old girl whose body was found dumped in woods near her home in New Carlisle, Indiana, less than two hours after she went missing died by asphyxiation, according to a preliminary autopsy. 

The St. Joseph County Homicide Unit announced Monday Grace Ross’ cause of death was homicide by asphyxiation with more test results pending.

The new details about the little girl’s final hours were revealed the same day the 14-year-old boy arrested over her death appeared in court for a detention hearing.

The boy, who has not been named due to his age, was ordered to remain in custody at a juvenile detention facility ahead of his next court appearance on March 22. 

A six-year-old girl whose body was found dumped in woods near her home in New Carlisle, Indiana , less than two hours after she went missing died by asphyxiation, according to a preliminary autopsy. Grace Ross pictured

The St. Joseph County Homicide Unit announced Monday Grace Ross'(pictured) cause of death was homicide by asphyxiation with more test results pending

The St. Joseph County Homicide Unit announced Monday Grace Ross'(pictured) cause of death was homicide by asphyxiation with more test results pending

Grace was reported missing from her home in Chapman Street by her family at 6:30pm Friday. Less than two hours later at 8:25pm, her body was discovered in a wooded area nearby.

The teenager was arrested and taken into custody in connection to her death.  

Derek Dieter, St. Joseph County Second District Commissioner, told ABC 57 authorities are still investigating what happened but that the details are ‘very horrific.’

‘Very horrific with how this laid out. The details of what I’ve known about so far, but any time there’s violence and it affects children especially it’s always a little more intense,’ he said. 

Due to the boy’s age, the justice process in Indiana is different to if he were an adult.  

A juvenile has to see a judge within 48 hours of their arrest for the detention hearing. 

Now the judge has ordered him to remain in custody following that hearing, the boy will be held in a detention center while the preliminary inquiry into the alleged crime is reviewed by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.   

The state can only then file a petition alleging delinquency after a preliminary inquiry is filed. 

A delinquency is the juvenile equivalent to a crime if the suspect were an adult.

Grace Rosss

Grace Ross

The new details about the little girl’s final hours were revealed the same day the 14-year-old boy arrested over her death appeared in court for a detention hearing

Grace and her aunt Nicole. The boy, who has not been named due to his age, was ordered to remain in custody at a juvenile detention facility ahead of his next court appearance on March 22

Grace and her aunt Nicole. The boy, who has not been named due to his age, was ordered to remain in custody at a juvenile detention facility ahead of his next court appearance on March 22

Grace was reported missing from her home by her family at 6:30pm Friday

Less than two hours later at 8:25pm, her body was discovered in a wooded area

Grace was reported missing from her home by her family at 6:30pm Friday. Less than two hours later at 8:25pm, her body was discovered in a wooded area

While the teen, who is the prime suspect in Grace’s death, awaits his next court appearance, the New Carlisle community has been left reeling over Grace’s death. 

The little girl’s funeral will lie in the Guisinger Chapel at the Palmer Funeral Home where loved ones can visit her from 4pm to 8pm Friday before her funeral service at 11am Saturday.  

Grace’s aunt Nicole Ross told ABC 57 the support from people in the area had been ‘amazing.’

‘The amount of people that I’ve never met or talked to that have reached out via social media via text it’s been amazing I guess but I kind of wish it wasn’t like this,’ she said.

She set up a fundraiser on Facebook for funeral expenses, which has raised over $29,000 so far. The fundraiser is aiming for $30,000.

‘My darling 6 year old niece Grace Ross passed away yesterday,’ the fundraiser stated. ‘She is now an angel in heaven.’    

The six-year-old's body was found in a wooded area near an apartment block in New Carlisle (pictured)

The six-year-old’s body was found in a wooded area near an apartment block in New Carlisle (pictured)

A vigil was held for the young girl in Memorial Park on Sunday with around 50 people gathering in her memory

A vigil was held for the young girl in Memorial Park on Sunday with around 50 people gathering in her memory

A neighbor who has lived near the family for 40 years said everyone in the community is shocked by Grace’s death.

‘Right at your back door, you just don’t anticipate anything like that ever happening in your area,’ Kim Huston told WSBT.

‘You don’t realize in a moment’s notice, somebody realizing that their child’s gone and then have to hear what had happened at such a young age, it’s horrific. 

A candlelight vigil was held at Memorial Park in New Carlisle on Sunday evening, where friends, family and neighbors gathered in Grace’s memory.

More than 200 people attended, placing candles, flowers, and stuffed animals in a gazebo and on a park bench. 

‘Grace was loved by everybody and she was friends with everybody,’ Michelle Ross, Grace’s mother, said at the vigil, according to the South Bend Tribune

‘She would go up to a stranger on the street and be like, ‘Hi, I’m Grace and I’m six.”

‘Her smile even showed on her mask,’ said Tara Bush, the principal of the elementary school Grace attended. ‘You could tell she was smiling all the time.’ 

Grace's grandmother Kelli Howard (pictured) was emotional as she held a picture of her granddaughter and her toy

Grace’s grandmother Kelli Howard (pictured) was emotional as she held a picture of her granddaughter and her toy

Family, friends and neighbors offered tributes to Gracie with poignant messages at the vigil

Family, friends and neighbors offered tributes to Gracie with poignant messages at the vigil

More than 200 people attended the vigil, placing candles, flowers, and stuffed animals in a gazebo and on a park bench

More than 200 people attended the vigil, placing candles, flowers, and stuffed animals in a gazebo and on a park bench

Many were emotional as they paid tribute to the young girl in a poignant ceremony on Sunday

Many were emotional as they paid tribute to the young girl in a poignant ceremony on Sunday


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