14-year-old being held following homicide of 6-year-old

NOW: 14-year-old being held following homicide of 6-year-old

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The St. Joseph County Homicide Unit has provided an update to the investigation into the death of 6-year-old Grace Ross.

The autopsy found her cause of death to be asphyxiation and manner of death as homicide.

"The amount of people that I've never met or talked to that have reached out via social media via text it's been amazing I guess but I kind of wish it wasn't like this," said Nicole Ross, Grace's aunt. 

The 14-year-old suspect in the case was in court on Monday for a detention hearing. The court ordered the juvenile detained.

The juvenile will be in court again on March 22.

"Very horrific with how this laid out. The details of what I've known about so far, but any time there's violence and it affects children especially it's always a little more intense," said Derek Dieter, St. Joseph County Second District Commissioner. 

A preliminary inquiry has been prepared and it will be reviewed by the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office. The preliminary inquiry is a report by an intake officer about the juvenile and the circumstances of the alleged crime.

The law only allows the state to file a petition alleging delinquency after a preliminary inquiry is filed. A petition of delinquency refers to a delinquent act that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.

The community came together for a vigil Sunday night in Grace's honor. 

"Just the community wanting to help out whether it's financially whether it's being here tonight you know I'm sure there's going to be other opportunities that somebody else organizes to help out and it just makes me feel proud to be a community. Part of a community that's so loving and here to help," said Brad Ellet, New Carlisle Resident. 

"Grace loves her teachers. She loved school so I'm very thankful for everything and everyone that has shown up and stepped up," said Kelli Howard, Grace's Grandma. 

On Friday around 6:30 p.m., 6-year-old Grace Ross was reported missing from Chapman Street in New Carlisle.

Approximately 2 hours later, Ross was found deceased in a wooded area near Chapman.

The CMHU was called in to investigate.

"I love her and I hope that she's with family in heaven," said Howard. 

A 14-year-old suspect was taken into custody, but the teen’s name has not been released.

Ross’ funeral is planned for Friday from 4-8 p.m. at the Palmer Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m.

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