Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

VACHERIE, La. -- After five grueling days, the search for a missing St. James girl has come to a tragic end.

The St. James Parish Sheriff's Office found the body of 12-year-old Talaija Dorsey at 10:20 a.m. Sunday morning.

Officials found the 12-year-old near a sugar cane field in Vacherie, just miles from her family's home, where she was taken early Tuesday morning.

'She was in a the edge of the woods, in a thick grassy area,' said Sheriff Willy Martin. 'Her body was actually behind a real thick pile of tall grass.'

Investigators say it is an area they have searched before and believe she has been there since the day she went missing.

Sheriff Martin said this tragic case is rare in their community and one that has affect him and his deputies deeply, 'The whole community fell in love with Talaija, as well as my whole department.'

For the last five days deputies and volunteers searched areas along the route Talaija's mother's fiance, 42-year-old John Celestine, took to work.

Celestine, who remains behind bars on an obstruction of justice charge, has now been named a suspect in her death.

Officials say Celestine liked to fish and that is part of the reason why investigators focused their search in the area she was found.

'There was a pretty large canal right next to the location,' said Sheriff Martin. 'I don't know if that is a spot he frequented before, but it's an area he could get in, get in unseen and get out quick.'

'Very shocking, to know he may be the one who did this,' says Talaija's mother's cousin Keantrya Franklin. 'We're not sure, but if he had, for him to be that close to us and we not know.'

Talaija's family was in church when they got the devastating news and say they are thankful for the community's love and support.

'It was bad, it was really tough,' says Rev. Samuel Jones of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in St. James Parish. 'It was really tough, beyond measure, but they are still holding on.

As family and friends mourn a life tragically cut short, they say finding her has given them some closure, but now they want justice.

'Why? That's all. Why? She was just a child,' says Franklin.

'It's a shame, a 12 -year-old girl did not deserve this, an innocent child,' says Sheriff Martin. 'We have a job to do to make sure the person who did this is brought to justice.'

Talaija's cause of death is still under investigation, pending the results of the coroner's autopsy.

The sheriff's office say it's processing evidence from the area where she was found, as well as evidence from Celestine's car, which was taken to the state police crime lab earlier this week.

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