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Missing New Hampshire girl found dead in river

Missing 11-year-old New Hampshire girl Celina Cass
Celina CassFBI via Reuters
/ Source: NBC, and news services

Investigators searching for an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl missing for almost a week have found her body in a river near her home, officials told reporters Monday.

The death of Celina Cass was being treated as a criminal investigation after it was determined that her body was placed in the river, New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said.

"We have brought Celina home," she added, "but not the way we wanted to bring her home."

Her body was found Monday morning in the stretch of river near a hydroelectric dam.

Celina was last seen on July 25 in her home, about a half mile from the dam that spans the Connecticut River between Stewartstown and Canaan, Vt.

Earlier Monday, the girl's stepfather was hospitalized after some odd behavior on the driveway of the family home in Stewartstown, about a mile from the Canadian border.

Wendell Noyes, who was involuntarily committed to a mental institution and diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2003, was seen repeatedly lying face down and rolling around in the driveway, MSNBC video showed.

ABC's "Nightline" reported last week that Noyes had been institutionalized after threatening an ex-girlfriend.

More than 100 investigators had searched for the girl by air, land and water in New Hampshire and neighboring Vermont. The FBI offered a $25,000 reward and a separate $5,000 reward was also being offered.

Over the weekend, the girl's father, who was in hospital when she went missing, made a public appeal for her safe return.

"We're hoping the best for her safety. I'd appreciate it if we get her back very soon," Adam Laro said.

"If she hears me now ... daddy's okay now. I'm getting much better and I'm recovering from the hospital," Laro added. "So whenever you're ready to come home Celina, daddy will be here waiting for you."

A teenager who knows Celina described her as not the sort of person to go off with a stranger. "She was very shy. If she didn't know you, she would look to her older sister to make sure you were okay," Kayla Baglio was quoted by New Hampshire Public Radio as saying.