Family mourns death of 7-year-old Georgia girl
updated 10:13 AM EST, Tue December 6, 2011
Atlanta (CNN) -- Relatives mourned Tuesday the death of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found in a Dumpster outside her Georgia apartment building three days after she went missing.
- Father: "My world collapsed. I couldn't believed that they robbed her from me"
- Police believe Jorelys Rivera was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered
- Her body was found in a Dumpster at her apartment complex in Canton
- Her disappearance so close to home "is the scariest thing," a family friend says
Police believe Jorelys Rivera was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered at the apartment complex in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director Vernon Keenan said Monday.
"My world collapsed. I couldn't believed that they robbed her from me," her father, Ricardo Galarza, told CNN affiliate WAPA in Puerto Rico.
"They destroyed my soul. They took a piece of my heart," her grandmother, Wanda Ivette Rivera, told the same network.
Another family member, Miriam Rivera, urged the state of Georgia to "throw the full weight of the law to the person who did this."
Missing Georgia child found dead
Missing 7-year-old body found
She was last seen alive Friday near a playground at her apartment. Police initially thought she might have wandered off, but, after more than 48 hours of searching, said they believed she was kidnapped.
"It's so close to home. To think she was just right there at the park and from there disappeared is the scariest thing," Maria Rodriguez, a friend of the girl's mother, told CNN.
Canton police, assisted by the FBI and the GBI, expanded the search area Monday and began canvassing for sex offenders living nearby. Jorelys' body was found in a Dumpster at the apartment complex where she lived.
As of Monday afternoon, Keenan said, investigators were actively pursuing leads, but police had no one in custody and no suspects.
"Quite frankly, at this point we do not have a strong suspect. We've not focused in on anyone. We very much need information from the public who may know something about the abduction of this child," said Keenan.
State troopers were stopping and talking to everyone entering, leaving or driving by the apartment complex Monday afternoon.
Earlier Monday, as volunteers and police handed out fliers with information and a picture of the missing child, her mother spent the morning in court trying to regain custody of her other children, who were taken by the Department of Family and Children's Services for alleged lack of supervision.
The girl's parents are not suspects, Keenan said.
Joselin Rivera had spoken with local media hours after her young daughter went missing Friday, saying she just wanted her returned safely.
CNN's Gustavo Valdes contributed to this report.