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Hundreds turn out to remember 14-year-old Red Bluff girl
Red Bluff police have established a tip line for the Marysa Nichols investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call 737-3160 or 737-3225.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Tehama County Courthouse Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil in memory of Marysa Nichols, the 14-year-old Red Bluff girl whose body was found in a creek near Red Bluff High School earlier that day.
"I came to honor her. She was my friend," said Melinda, a teenage girl who went to school with Nichols.
Others said Nichols was a happy, typical teenager who loved her family.
The girl's body was found by law enforcement at 11 a.m. as they searched Brickyard Creek. She had been reported missing on Tuesday.
Red Bluff Police Chief Paul Nanfito said the case is being investigated as a homicide.
He did not release a cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.
"I cannot say more without compromising the investigation," the chief said on Thursday. "We have no suspects at this time as we continue this very intensive investigation."
Wendy Casey, who came with her daughters and son to the candlelight vigil, said she was not allowing her daughters to go to school on Friday.
"There is a murderer among us. This is very scary. I want to know more about what happened," she said.
Nanfito did not say if 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. Tuesday.
Nichols was an independent study student who took a couple of classes a day at the academy.
She 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 has not be confirmed 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 30 minutes later.
Nanfito said at 1 a.m. Wednesday, police officers and detectives searched the creek area near Red Bluff High 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 said.
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 said.
Throughout Wednesday, police continued their investigation, which included efforts to obtain video surveillance footage as well as information from other electronic devices, the chief said.
A search was conducted in the creek near the school again late Wednesday night.
On Thursday, police used dogs to help search the creek area, which is covered in heavy vegetation, and investigators went up with California Highway Patrol as well. The Tehama County Interagency SWAT team joined the search efforts.
"It was two members of the SWAT team that located a deceased female in the creek area," Nanfito 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.