OZARK, Mo. A 9-year-old girl who had been missing for a week was found dead Friday in a sinkhole, a law enforcement official said.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because authorities had not yet made an official announcement, said the body of Rowan Ford was found on private land about 10 miles south of the girl's hometown of Stella.
A spokeswoman for the Newton County Sheriff's Department, which has been handling the case, declined to comment pending a news conference later in the day.
The family could not be immediately reached Friday morning.
Rowan was reported missing after her mother, Colleen Spears, returned home early Nov. 3 from a night shift at a Wal-Mart and discovered that her daughter was gone.
The girl's stepfather, David Spears, told investigators he and two male friends were with Rowan the night before until they went out around 10:45 p.m. He returned home around midnight but did not check on the girl, Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said.
Spears also later told authorities that he called his mother sometime after 1 a.m. and asked to use her vehicle, Copeland has said. She took it to him about half an hour later, then stayed at his house while her son left in her vehicle for about 5 1/2 hours, Copeland has said.
Copeland also has said that Spears has not been able to explain what he did during that time. He has not been accused of any crime.
Spears, who has been staying with his parents, has said it was wrong for him to have left the girl alone.