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UPDATE: Body of missing Red Bluff girl found, investigated as homicide
The body found by law enforcement at 11 a.m. Thursday has been confirmed to be that of the missing 14-year-old Red Bluff girl, Marysa Nichols.
Red Bluff police Chief Paul Nanfito said the case is being investigated as a homicide.
He did not say if police know a possible cause of death.
"An autopsy is being conducted March 2. I cannot say more without compromising the investigation," said the chief. "We have no suspects at this time as we continue this very intensive investigation."
Nanfito also did not disclose whether there was evidence the girl had been raped, or if she had been killed where she was found in the "creek area west of Red Bluff High School and east of Baker Road."
Nichols was reported missing by her mother, Diane Whitmire, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Whitmire dropped Nichols off at Red Bluff High School's Education Outreach Academy at 9:50 a.m. on Tuesday.
A student at the high school said Nichols she was an Independent Study student who took a couple of classes a day at the academy.
Nichols told her mother she would be home from school around 2:30 p.m. She regularly walked home from school.
Nanfito said Nichols went to her first class around 10 a.m., which lasted for 45 minutes, but did not show up for her 1 p.m. class.
Shonna Casey, a junior at Red Bluff High School, said Nichols didn't show up to have lunch with her friends at the school. She also said school cameras show Nichols leaving the school and walking to the creek.
That statement could not be verified by police.
When Whitmire got home from work around 4 p.m., her daughter was not at home and she made the missing persons report one and half hours later.
Nanfito said at 1 a.m. Wednesday police officers and detectives searched the creek area near Red Bluff High School for the missing girl because it was an area that she crossed when walking home from school.
"Officers and detectives worked on this investigation until approximately 3 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 27," he stated.
Police searched the creek area again at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
"Neither of these searches produced any leads or information regarding the disappearance of Marysa Nichols," Nanfito stated.
Throughout Wednesday police continued their investigation which included efforts to obtain video surveillance footage as well as information from other electronic devices, the chief reported.
A search was conducted in the creek near the school again late Wednesday night.
On Thursday, police used dogs to help search the creek, and investigators went up with California Highway Patrol Air Operations to continue the search.
As it was a training day for the Tehama Interagency SWAT team, the team was utilized to once again search the creek for the missing girl, reported Nanfito.
"Two members of the SWAT team located a deceased female in the creek area," the chief said.
A short time later Nichols' family, including her mother, stepfather, and father located in Fresno, were notified that the body found in the creek was their missing daughter.
The Child Abduction Response Team has been requested to assist in the investigation, as well as the California Department of Justice Forensic Crime Scene investigators to process the crime scene.
Red Bluff Police Department has established a tip-line regarding the case, and anyone with information is asked to call (530) 737-3160 or (530) 737-3225.
Additional law enforcement personnel have taken part in the investigation, including personnel from the Tehama County Sheriff's Department, District Attorney's Office, Tehama Interagency Drug Enforcement task force, Probation Department, California Highway Patrol, Corning Police Department and State Parole Office.