LOWELL – The desperate search for a missing girl in Lowell has come to a tragic end.
According to I-Team sources, 7-year-old Anna Mburu’s body was found in the Merrimack River.
“We are all heartbroken to be here this afternoon to report that it appears that the end of the search has come with the recovery of a body of a young child preliminarily identified as 7-year-old Anna Mburu,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan said Anna was found in the river near the Trull Brook Golf Course in Tewksbury at about noon.
Ryan said using side-scan sonar, environmental police were able to detect an image that was believed to be Anna. Dive teams searched the river, which is 4 to 6 feet higher than usual due to recent rains and moving quickly. Anna was located 15 to 20 yards from shore. She was in water 8 to 9 feet deep.
“As you can imagine, Anna’s family is now dealing with an unimaginable loss,” Ryan said. “While they are also deeply grateful, they have requested privacy during these next few difficult days.”
Investigators said Anna, who had autism and was nonverbal, was last seen riding her bike around 2 p.m. Sunday in the Belvedere section of Lowell near East Merrimack Street and River Road. Her family called police after she went missing from the family’s driveway. A massive search was launched involving several police departments with the community joining in.
Earlier Tuesday, police asked neighbors to check their property and any surveillance video cameras they may have for signs of her.
“She’s a sweet little girl. She’s funny. She likes art. She likes to paint. She loves to paint. I’m just thinking about the family and how they must be feeling right now,” said Anna’s art teacher, Lisa Labrecque, who joined the search Monday morning.
The chief medical examiner will determine a cause of death. Foul play is not suspected. The investigation is still ongoing.
“We have no reason to believe that any conduct on the part of anyone led to this, and anyone who has children knows that children can disappear in seconds,” Ryan said.
St. Michael Parish will hold a vigil for Anna and her family at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the downstairs church hall, 12 Sixth St., Lowell.