Gabriella Doolin had been with her parents watching a football game at a Kentucky high school on Nov. 14, before her mother reported her missing. Twenty-five minutes later, she was found dead in a creek 400 yards away.
Kentucky State Police ruled the 7-year-old's death a homicide, and an entire community has pulled together to help the grieving family, the Associated Press reports.
Gabriella's parents reported their little girl missing at 7:40 p.m., and after announcements over the PA system at Allen County-Scottsville High School failed to yield any information about the missing girl, the football game was called and the entire crowd set about looking for her, according to WSMV.
“It came over the intercom the third time, and they shut it down,” Mike Willoughby, a friend of the Doolins, told WSMV. “We quit, and the entire community started looking for her. We had a complete lockdown of the school. I mean it was super quick.”
Gabriella was found dead at 8:05 p.m.
Kentucky State Police were still awaiting the results of an autopsy on Nov. 16, AP reported. Autopsy results can take as long as several weeks to process, depending on a range of factors including the condition of the body and whether lab techs discover foreign substances that require further testing.
So far, state police haven't publicly indicated whether they have a suspect. They haven't said how the young girl died, but told AP that the full resources of the state police's investigative unit have been devoted to the case.
"Once we find the person responsible, it will be a murder charge," Trooper B.J. Eaton said.
On Nov. 15, hundreds of Scottsville, Kentucky, residents gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember Gabriella and comfort her parents.
"I've never endured anything like this," her father, Brian Doolin, said. "All I want to do is hold my baby."
Gabriella is survived by her father, her mother, Amy, and her brother, Alec, who all attended the Sunday night vigil. Gabriella, known as Gabbi to friends and classmates, had attended the football game with her parents to support Alec, who was playing, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.
"This whole town stands with you tonight,” said Keith Patrick, a local pastor, according to AP. “We are praying for you. We are crying with you. We are mourning with you.”
Scottsville is a tight-knit community, and neighbors were devastated by the murder, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.
"We have children who go to school with the Doolins. The kids in school know them," said Cathy Celsor of Scottsville. "It's just like our community is broken. There are no words for something this horrific."