Neighbors and friends of the Mikaela Lynch family gather near the family home on Harbor Lane in Clearlake, Wednesday May 15, 2013 after authorities reported the nine year-old was found dead in Cache Creek.
The body of a missing 9-year-old autistic girl from San Francisco was discovered by divers Wednesday near the Clearlake home where she was last seen over the weekend, authorities said.
Clearlake police chief Craig Clausen made the grim announcement of the discovery of the body of Mikaela Renee Lynch about 11:30 a.m. in Cache Creek.
"It's difficult to be standing here saying this," Clausen said at a news conference.
The announcement brought tears from the many volunteers who had searched for the little girl since her disappearance Sunday.
"It's really tragic," said police Sgt. Nick Bennett. "We were hopeful it might turn out differently. "
The creek and swampy area had been a focal point since the search began because the little girl had always been drawn to water.
A brief video taken from a residence nearby showed the little girl without clothes and shoes running north on Harbor Drive, Bennett said, and the girl's family said she has a habit of removing her clothing.
Her disappearance was not considered an abduction, Bennett added.
As soon as the announcement was made, San Francisco school officials dispatched counselors to Sunset Elementary where little Mikaela was a student.
"Our heart goes out to the family of Mikaela Lynch," the district said in a prepared statement. "The Sunset Elementary community has been eagerly awaiting her safe return and is shocked and sadden by today's news."
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