ST. JAMES PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A community is in mourning after the search for a 12-year-old girl ended tragically and the man arrested in connection with her disappearance is now a murder suspect.
The St. James Parish Sheriff's Office said the body of Talaija Dorsey was found in a wooded cane field on LA 3127, about four miles away from a sheriff's office substation, around 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Dorsey had been missing since July 1.
During a news conference, Sheriff Willy Martin confirmed he discovered the girl's body. He said he did not want to go into details about the scene because the person who killed her knows exactly how it looks. He also apologized for being emotional during the briefing.
"Didn't end the way we were hoping," Martin said. "We looked at that smiling face every day."
John Celestine, 42, was arrested in connection with her disappearance. He is the fiancé of Dorsey's mother. Deputies charged him with obstruction of justice and false reports in the girl's disappearance. Celestine works in Jefferson Parish. Just days ago, investigators announced they were focusing their search along the route that Celestine took to work, specifically LA 3127, the same highway where Dorsey's body was found.
"He is a suspect now," Martin said.
The FBI, Louisiana State Police and several sheriff's offices began searching areas where Celestine may have been. Martin said Celestine also liked to fish and there is a large canal near where the girl's body was located.
"Didn't know if that's a spot he frequented before. Obviously, a location he would be able to get in, possibly unseen and get out quick," Martin added.
The sheriff believes whoever killed Dorsey acted alone. He also said he never left home without the little girl's picture. Photos of a happy Dorsey had been seen on television and in newspapers ever since her disappearance.
"[I] took this picture with me every day. Put it on my kitchen table; left with it in the morning," Martin said.
Dorsey's body was found behind a tall, thick patch of grass. It was not the ending that the community prayed for.
"This is my family, not just church family," said Rev. Samuel Jones. "This is a young lady who would come to bible class, prayer service with us. This is the one I baptized. This is my family and I know we're going to get through it."
Jones said on the day that Dorsey was reported missing, he had a dream about his deceased wife holding a baby. He now believes that baby was Dorsey.