Police say deaths of two children were no accident

The Associated Press
Wednesday December 26, 2001

WALDPORT, Ore. — The two children found dead here in recent days were probably brother and sister, and their deaths were not accidental, authorities said Sunday. 

Divers found the body of a young girl in a coastal inlet over the weekend, a few hundred yards from where a boy’s body had drifted ashore on Wednesday. Investigators have not identified either child. 

“It’s bad enough to have one child found dead,” said Lt. Ed Stallard of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. “But now (we) have two, and then apparently some parents that cannot or will not report the children missing.” 

Police have accounted for all local children. They have notified police agencies across the West Coast, and the FBI is searching national databases of missing children. 

The boy’s body came ashore in a small coastal inlet that feeds Alsea Bay. It appeared to have been in the water for about 10 hours, meaning it entered the water shortly after midnight. An autopsy found no obvious signs of trauma. 

Divers searching the bay Saturday found the young girl. Police believe she died at about the same time as the boy. 

The boy was between 4 and 6 years old, with light brown hair and brown eyes. The girl was about 3 years old, with shoulder-length blond hair. 

“The physical characteristics are similar” between the boy and the girl, Stallard said. “The facial features are similar. The fact that they were both found in the same body of water within a couple of feet of each other all that’s consistent with other evidence that we’ve been obtaining in our investigation.” 

The investigation has focused on a white Mitsubishi Eclipse with California license plates that was parked for hours near Waldport. 

Neighbors near the small coastal community had reported the car on the day the boy’s body drifted to shore. It was parked in an out-of-the-way private drive. The driver seemed asleep behind the wheel, then got out and stood by the car. 

He seemed to look down a forested canyon beside the road, Stallard said. Detectives looked there Friday but turned up no clues. 

A highway runs past Alsea Bay, and police have considered the possibility that a car ran off the road and sank. But Stallard said police have not found skid marks or an oil slick on the water, and divers have found no evidence of a sunken car. 

Residents in the small coastal town prepared Monday for a memorial for the two children. 

A stream of cars passed over the Highway 34 bridge Sunday, near the spot where the bodies were found. A small memorial wall emerged as people stopped to pay their respects. 

Some cried as they knelt in prayer. Others quickly placed flowers and left with hollow looks of sadness. 

“It’s terrible. This time of year it shouldn’t be like this,” said Gary Bessette, one of the mourners. “Those little kids should be running around anticipating what they’re going to get for Christmas.” 

A line of stuffed animals, teddy bears, balloons, flowers and candles were placed near the memorial. A card read: “We didn’t know you, but you touched our heart.” Another said: “Angel among us! You are loved.”