Mint Hill police said Thursday that the body of a missing teenager was found in a pond overnight, not far from where some of the girl's belongings were found earlier this week.
Authorities had drained the pond on Sable-Cap Road hours earlier as part of their search for 16-year-old Kayla Campbell, who was reported missing after she failed to return home Sunday evening.
The teen's body was found around 12:15 a.m. Thursday. After the discovery, authorities moved media away from the scene.
"This morning we must release news we had hoped would not become true in this case," police said in a press release.
Mint Hill police said their investigation now shifts to trying to determine the cause and circumstances around Campbell's death. They continued to ask anyone who may have seen the teen between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday to call authorities at 704-545-1085.
At around 8 a.m. Thursday, a dive team was asked to return to the pond but it was not immediately clear why.
Campbell's parents said their daughter, a student at Independence High School, liked to visit the area near the pond, to take photos and spend time with friends.
The discovery of the teen's body came more than two days after divers found Campbell's cellphone, bicycle and bike helmet near the pond. Crews conducted another search of the site the next day.
Officials began draining the pond off Pumpkin Way Drive around 1 p.m. Wednesday hoping to find evidence leading to Campbell. The pond is about a quarter-mile from where the teen lived.
At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mint Hill police said they planned to actively search the partly drained pond through the night. A raft was needed to scour part of the pond, and authorities worked through the cold, rainy weather, using searchlights set up on towers to illuminate the pond, which is in a dark and relatively secluded area.
Neighbors occasionally stopped at the scene to check on developments. One neighbor said water in parts of the pond were 10 to 12 feet deep.
The first indication that searchers might have found the missing teen came about 1:15 a.m. Thursday, when Mint Hill police asked a group of media representatives and a few residents to move away from the search scene.
Activity continued at the scene for several hours afterward, with police apparently looking for clues as to what might have led to the girl's death.
Multiple agencies have helped in the search, including Mint Hill police, the Charlotte Fire Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On Wednesday, a K-9 unit from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office joined them in the search.
Neighbors and friends formed private search parties to look through the woods and neighborhood near the pond Wednesday. Local media also converged on the scene.
Campbell's father said his daughter was last seen around 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the family's home on Dartmoor Place, which is about a quarter-mile from the pond that emergency crews have been searching.
The teen told family members she would be back in a few hours, but she has not been seen since.
On Tuesday, police said investigators have searched a 7- to 8-square-mile area between Bartlett, Glenn Croft and the Summerwood subdivisions. But they said no new evidence was found to assist them.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the Mint Hill Police Department notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and a Silver Alert was issued statewide for her. Authorities added that although the Silver Alert initially indicated that Campbell suffered from dementia, that report is false. Her parents told WCNC-TV that she suffered from depression.
Independence High School officials will have extra grief counselors on hand Thursday to help students and staff deal with the sad news.
-- April Bethea, Steve Lyttle and Cameron Steele, The Charlotte Observer
Published in Charlotte Observer on Dec. 13, 2012