Police: Body In Ditch Was Kayleah Wilson; She Was Killed

Greeley Police Chief Makes Official Announcement

The body found in a Greeley ditch is that of Kayleah Wilson, who died at the hands of a killer, police announced Thursday.

Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner confirmed the identification at an afternoon news conference and said her death "does not appear to be accidental."

"This is a homicide investigation -- a murder investigation," Garner said. He said her cause of death has been determined but it would not be made public because it is a "key" in the investigation.

He said the body was identified through dental records.

"The death occurred some time ago," he said.

Garner said the $20,000 reward offered by the FBI is still in effect, and asked for tips to be called in to 970-350-9600.

“We can't guarantee that it's not a stranger who killed her. We have a wide range of people of interest in this case,” Garner said.

"There is nothing to indicate that there is a family member as a suspect in this case," Garner added.

He said 12 to 15 investigators are on the case and the FBI was assisting.

"We need information, even if seems like something we already know. We encourage people to keep calling us with information and we need everything we can get," Garner said.

"We are already looking towards a successful prosecution on whoever did this," he said. "So we are going to err on the side of caution and say less than what we normally would to make a prosecutor’s job easier."

Investigation Begins On Who Could Have Killed Kayleah

An irrigation ditch employee, called a ditch rider, made the gruesome discovery early Wednesday morning in the Greeley-Loveland Irrigation Canal near a Greeley cemetery. It is a-half mile from the apartment where Kayleah lives with her mom.

Investigators returned to the irrigation ditch Thursday night where they retrieved a piece of rope they say may or may not have anything to do with the case.

Kayleah disappeared on March 28 while walking to a friend's birthday party.

Her body was found at the bottom of a 30-foot spillway in the canal.

The autopsy was conducted Wednesday at McKee Medical Center in nearby Loveland.

Brenda Jamison, one of Kayleah's grandmothers, confirmed the family had been contacted by the Weld County Coroner on Wednesday but she would not say what they were told. Garner said he met with Kayleah's mother earlier on Thursday to break the news.

There was no activity Thursday at the apartment where Kayleah's mother lives. She apparently left shortly after meeting with the police chief.

"She is reacting like any mom would in this situation, but I think (there's) a little bit of relief that brings a little closure," Garner said. "Our pledge to her that we do not give up on cases like this. We do not give up."

7NEWS confirmed that three registered sex offenders live within a mile of Kayleah's apartment. We contacted two of them and they confirmed they had been contacted by police investigators and had to provide a written alibis of where they were on the day Kayleah went missing.

Where And When Was Body Left?

Police are trying to determine where the body first entered the canal. The area where the body was found had been searched at least twice and the theory is that heavy rains flooded the canal, dislodging the body from another point upstream.

The canal goes underground for some distance just upstream from where the body was found. It is more than a mile west of the Greeley Mall, where surveillance video captured someone, believed to be Kayleah, walking across the parking lot on the day she disappeared.

"There are a number of people in the video and one of them looks like Kayleah, but we can't say for certain that it is her," said Garner. He said the video wasn't clear enough to positively identify her.

"We don’t give up on cases like this," Garner added. "We cannot guarantee there is not someone out there, given the opportunity, who would not do this again."

On Wednesday night, a large group of Kayleah's friends and family gathered at the spot where the body was found and held a candlelight vigil. The candles and mementos remained next to the canal spillway on Thursday.

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