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Body of girl, 7, found in trash

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan speaks at a news conference Monday.

Cherokee County Sheriff's Department via AP

Jorelys Rivera, 7, of Canton, Ga.

The body of 7-year-old Georgia girl missing since Friday was found in a trash compactor at her apartment complex, officials announced Monday.

It appears Jorelys Rivera of Canton, Ga., was sexually assaulted and severely beaten, Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, told reporters.

"This is going to be a very horrendous crime. I'm convinced of that after observing the body," Keenan said, adding that "we do not have a strong suspect." He did not elaborate.

The trash compactor had not been searched until Monday because its contents had to be moved offsite so they could be searched, officials said.

Canton police Detective Candy Worthy said the girl was last seen Friday around 5 p.m. at a nearby playground with a teenage baby sitter. The girl had gone back to her apartment to get sodas for friends when she disappeared, authorities said.

David Goldman / AP

Nancy Hudgins, a neighbor of 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera, stands Monday near the trash compactor where authorities say Rivera's body was dumped in Canton, Ga.

The girl's mother, Joselin Rivera, earlier pleaded for her daughter's safe return. "I want to tell whoever has her or took her not to harm her, to return her," NBC station 11Alive.com reported. "She's innocent. She's a little angel."

Rivera said she hadn't seen her daughter since leaving for work Thursday night.

"She gave me a kiss and told me that she loved me a lot," Rivera added, noting that when she got home Friday morning, her daughter had already left for school. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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