GULFPORT, Miss. — Police are investigating a homicide after the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was found in a vacant trailer in Gulfport Thursday morning after an all-night search.
The girl’s mother reported her missing on Wednesday morning.
WLOX reports that the Harrison County coroner said the little girl’s body was in a bathroom in the trailer, which was near the family’s apartment.
A piece of clothing with the child’s scent helped a Gulf Coast search and rescue dog lead authorities to her.
Coroner Gary Hargrove said that Janaya was strangled, but provided few others details about the girl’s death because of the ongoing investigation.
Two people have been arrested from evidence gathered in the investigation, but neither is charged with a crime directly related to the girl’s death.
Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said Friday morning that officers have been working non-stop to uncover evidence and track leads to find the person responsible for killing Janaya.
That investigation led to the arrests of Julian Casper Gray and Alberto Julio Garcia. Police said the address of both men is the Klein Road apartment complex where the young girl lived. That apartment is next door to a trailer complex where Janaya’s body was found Thursday morning.
Gray is charged with the rape of a woman; Garcia is charged with residential burglary.
Chief Papania also talked about a man who has been mentioned as a suspect on social media, and by folks who helped in the search for Janaya. He stressed that man was not a suspect, and has been cooperating with police. The chief said initial reports that the man had bite marks on his arm were false.
Members of the community left flowers and teddy bears at a makeshift memorial for the child Friday morning.
“There’s no words to describe what they’re going through,” said neighbor Asha Staples. “[We] just want them to know that there is a community of love and support and if there’s anything that anybody can do, just let us know.”