CORSICANA, TX (AP) -- A 6-year-old Texas girl who had been sexually assaulted was found hanged inside her family's garage, and authorities on Thursday described her mother's boyfriend as the primary suspect.
The boyfriend was arrested Wednesday on a charge of possession of child pornography and remained in the Navarro County Jail on Thursday.
Sheriff's deputies have not charged him in the death of young Hanna Mack, but they identified him as the primary suspect, Chief Deputy Mike Cox said Thursday.
Dana Mack discovered her daughter missing Monday morning about the time the first-grader should have been getting ready for school. The little girl's body was found in a rust-covered garage behind her home in Navarro Mills Lake, about 65 miles south of Dallas.
The mother last saw Hanna sleeping on the couch around 1 a.m., according to Jean Langford, the girl's great-grandmother.
"(Dana) is just devastated. We all are," Langford said. "This is the worst thing that's ever happened to this family. Hanna was our pride and joy. She was our little sweetheart."
In a letter to the sheriff's department, Navarro County justice of the peace Vicki Gray said an autopsy of the body showed "a multitude of events that together caused the death of this child." No other details were released.
Neighbors gathered Wednesday evening outside the garage in Navarro Mills, a rural lakeside community in east Texas, and prayed during a vigil. They donated money to the family, held a moment of silence and released balloons into the air.
Many worried that a predator could be on the loose.
"My kids sleep in the bed with me," said Pam Gray, who lives next door and whose children rode the school bus with Hanna. "They get off of school and they've heard all the rumors and wild things, and they're terrified."
Police asked state caseworkers to not say if Hanna's family had been investigated by child welfare officers, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. She characterized the request as uncommon.
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