Authorities have confirmed that the body of a young girl found today has been identified as 8-year-old Hiawayi Robinson.
At approximately 12 p.m., the search for Hiawayi ended when “regrettably” her body was recovered near Turner and Rebel roads, Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam said at a news conference this afternoon.
“The thing that we fear most has come upon us,” he said.
For the past two days, local, state and federal law enforcement, volunteers and numerous other search teams joined forces in hope of locating Hiawayi.
According to Ephriam, the case has been classified as a homicide.
“We’re going to continue our vigilant pursuit of the person or persons responsible for this senseless, cowardly act of unspeakable violence on an innocent child,” Ephriam said. “We will not stop until we find the person or persons responsible.”
Ephriam strongly urged for anyone with any information to please come forward and said that no information regarding the case is too small or insignificant to report.
At 1 p.m. today, a female pictured in surveillance footage provided by Prichard Police came forward to Mobile Police Headquarters, MPD spokeswoman Ashley Rains said.
MPD then notified Prichard Police and PPD advised MPD to instruct the woman to drive to Prichard Police Headquarters, according to Rains.
Since then, the woman has been interviewed, and Ephriam said she is not a suspect in the case but did offer valuable information.
He said this should not be used “as a crutch against her,” “as a means to ostracize her” or to “make idle threats.”
“She has done her duty and her obligation, and we are expecting other citizens, if they have credible information, to do just the same,” he said.
In regards to an Amber Alert not being issued, Ephriam said the Department of Justice Regulations under the Amber Alert program states sufficient information related to the abductor and/or vehicles used in the abduction must be present.
“In the case of Hiawayi we did not have that information,” he said. “We did perform the best management practice that was called upon.”
A missing persons bulletin was issued, which allowed all members of law enforcement to establish the necessary levels of protocol in the context as if an Amber Alert had been called, he said.
“We are very confident that every means of resource, every means of law enforcement and every means of community support that was required under the missing persons alert was, in fact, enacted to the greatest extent to the benefit of trying to identify and bring this blessed child home.”
Neither law enforcement officials nor FBI officials made comments during the press conference.
“Due to the nature of it being an active and fluid investigation, we will not provide any further information at this time or take questions in regards to the investigation itself,” Ephriam said. “There have been rumors, inaccurate information that has only served to detract our overall purpose of bringing complete and swift justice on behalf of Hiawayi Robinson and her family and this city.”
Ephriam said authorities will update the public as necessary, but their first priority is working with Hiawayi’s family to meet their needs and help heal the community’s pain.
“This represents the absolute worst of any form of crime,” he said.