1 of 7
Tom Smart, Deseret News
Investigators gather evidence in an area that burned Saturday next to the canal in West Jordan where the body of a 6-year-old girl was found Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The girl was reported missing about 7:30 a.m. Police are calling her death a possible homicide.

WEST JORDAN — Police are investigating the death of a 6-year-old girl, who was found dead in a canal near her home Tuesday morning.

Police are calling the death "suspicious" and a possible homicide. It occurred in the same neighborhood where a fire destroyed two houses on Saturday.

Just before 7:30 a.m., family members called police to report that Sierra Newbold was missing from her home at 2383 W. 7095 South. Officers started searching the area and soon found her in a canal, not far from her home, said West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders.

She was dead at the scene, but police would not release many details. "There was not a significant amount of trauma on the body," West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond said.

Investigators, he said, do not know how the child died, but they are treating the case as a homicide. He said the public should remain aware, but he said there is no reason to believe the girl's death was anything more than an isolated incident.

"If there's a threat that becomes known to us, we'll let the public know," he said. "If there was an accident, we'll let people know that."

An autopsy was expected to take place Wednesday.

Claire Evenson, a neighbor whose daughter was a close friend of the Sierra, described the child as smart and full of life.

"She was going to start first grade with my daughter," Evenson said. "They were so excited for that."

Sierra loved to dance and play dress up. Evenson said the residents of the neighborhood are close and the 6-year-old girl would always include everyone while playing with the children who lived nearby.

"This is just hard for everyone to wrap their mind around," Evenson said.

Another neighbor, Bryan Gaiford, said he would remember Sierra for her smile.

"I didn't know her too well, but she was always smiling, always running around," Gaiford said.

Diamond said there were no signs of a break-in at the Newbold home. The girl's father had left for work sometime before the family noticed that she was missing.

"There's no obvious signs that she just got up and walked away," he said.

The chief confirmed that police were analyzing surveillance video and trying to enhance some of the images recorded before daylight. He said the FBI is assisting West Jordan police with the video and could not comment on its contents.

"Until we enhance the video I can't say what it shows," he said.

The death occurred in the same neighborhood where a fire burned two homes on Saturday. Both homes were destroyed after a tree fell on a power line, which sparked a fire in a field behind the homes. Wind and heat then spread the flames to the homes and created difficult conditions for firefighters.

"This neighborhood has been through a lot," Gaiford said Tuesday.

Sierra lived a block away from West Jordan Elementary School. Police said on Twitter that the death had nothing to do with the school.

"While the child lives in a neighborhood, rumors that part of this incident occurred at WJ Elem are FALSE. No known danger to the public. Will share more as facts are known," the tweet stated.

Sanders said police do not have any suspects but are following up on a number of leads. He said police have received "all sorts of tips," which he described as typical at this stage of an investigation.

"We're getting all kinds of information," Sanders said. "We have to sort through all that. We don't know what it means yet."

E-mail: [email protected]