Alaryn, a beautiful bright eyed 18-month-old girl, seen here in a Facebook photo with her mother, Lydia Iliff.
SALINE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -
A medical examiner believes a Marshall toddler died from severe dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Deputies found the body of 18-month-old Alaryn near the Black Water River on Sunday morning. Investigators are still waiting to talk to the mother of the toddler who was found dead on a creek bank after her mother turned up at a stranger's house.
The Black Water River is where volunteers found the body of Alaryn about 2 a.m. Sunday.
The sheriffs office says it is still trying to talk to the baby's mother, Lydia Iliff, who is believed to have left her daughter on the river's bank.
Alaryn was a beautiful, bright-eyed 18-month-old girl. Saline County Sheriff Wally George said in his 33 years as sheriff, it's cases like this that haunt him.
"I was with that little girl at 2 a.m. at the scene, and I still have that image burned in my brain," George said.
Investigators with the sheriff's department and Missouri Highway Patrol are working around the clock on the case after Iliff showed up at a woman's house more than 20 miles from her home. Iliff was disoriented and naked, saying she couldn't find her daughter.
"Out of nowhere, her car disappeared, and I just thought maybe she had moved out," a neighbor said. "She was innocent. She shouldn't have been there."
The neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, said Iliff and her baby moved in about two weeks ago.
"I would see a high chair and baby items, and I was excited there was a baby ... a new neighbor in the building," the neighbor said.
But as fast as she moved in, she disappeared along with her daughter.
Seventy-eight volunteers scoured the riverbank in the middle of the night over the weekend and made the heartbreaking discovery.
"I wish when I was standing over that little girl I could've waved a magic wand or ask the good lord to bring her back to life so I could hug her and kiss her, but obviously it doesn't work that way," George said.
The sheriff said investigators have been unable to speak to Iliff, who is hospitalized in Marshall, MO.
Alaryn's body was taken to Columbia for an autopsy Monday afternoon.
The coroner said the preliminary autopsy report shows the toddler died of severe dehydration and heat exhaustion. There were no obvious signs of physical abuse.
Investigators say they hope to turn the case files over to prosecutors later this week.
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