ORANGE PARK – Investigators had more than a thousand tips but are still trying to figure out what happened when 7-year-old Somer Thompson disappeared on her walk home from a north Florida school last week.
At a fundraiser Sunday for Somer’s family, children played in a bounce house as adults watched carefully. They vowed to find the girl’s killer and raised about $18,500 so her mother doesn’t have to go back to work immediately.
Somer’s name and photo were everywhere at the carnival-like fundraiser, which was held in a tree-lined park in the town’s center. A silent raffle, a bake sale and even glittery makeovers for little girls were offered to help the family after the girl went missing after school Monday. Her body was found in a Georgia landfill Wednesday.
“I’ve been crying since day one,” said Amanda Wendorff, a co-organizer of the fundraiser. “When it’s a child, it just touches a community.”
Wendorff, the wife of a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy, has four children of her own. She urged people at the carnival to be on the lookout for anyone suspicious – underscoring the fear that is running deep in the community.
Meanwhile, detectives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are combing through tips: more than 1,150 calls from people around the U.S. have poured in regarding the little girl.
So far, no one has come forward to say they saw the girl abducted or attacked. Investigators have ruled out all 161 registered sex offenders who lived within a 5-mile radius of Somer’s home.
Thompson’s mother, Diena Thompson, has praised the hard work of investigators.
“These detectives – excuse my language – are busting their (expletive) to find it. Because it’s an it,” Diena Thompson said Saturday, referring to the killer of her daughter.
When reached by The Associated Press by phone Sunday, Thompson declined an interview.
“I don’t want to think about doing any news until after I bury my baby,” she said.
A public viewing and funeral are planned for Monday and Tuesday, but graveside services and the burial will be private.