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GRIFFIN, GA — Here’s another sad one for your Christmas Eve. Police have arrested 40-year-old Shane Collett for the death of Skylar Dials, the 9-year-old who went missing on Friday and was later found dead in a wooded area near her home.

Skylar was last seen alive at around 11 am Friday as she took a 30 to 40-yard path through the woods near her home to get to a friend’s house. Skylar’s friend lived with her mother, the homeowner, and Collett — who had moved into the home a few months earlier.

“Skylar had been given permission to go to her friend’s house to play. The family had said it was common for Skylar to walk that route to play with her friend,” Sheriff Wendell Beam said. “They each walked back and forth. The houses were in clear sight of each other.”

Police were called at around 3:45 pm after Skylar’s aunt went to pick her up for a family outing and was informed she had never made it to her friend’s home. Several local agencies went door to door, and the woods were searched with K-9 units and a helicopter equipped with heat sensors. The search ended 10 hours later when Skylar’s body was found in a wooded area opposite her friend’s home.

“She was more or less behind a large debris pile from a logging operation that went on out here at some point. But not covered per se. There was not debris on top of her,” Georgia Bureau of Investigations special agent Wayne Smith said.

Skylar’s body showed no obvious signs of trauma and was transported to the State Crime Lab for a determination as to the exact cause of death. Skylar’s mother had to be hospitalized after receiving the news of her daughter’s death, officials said.

There’s not a lot of information on what pointed police to Collett and why he was arrested several hours after Skylar’s body was found, but he has been charged with murder, kidnapping and concealing a death. He’s currently being held in the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center without bond. He’s not a registered sex offender, and investigators have not discovered any other criminal record.

According to Beam, he did not believe Skylar’s friend or her mother were home when Skylar vanished. I guess you can sort of see the scenario… Skylar goes to see friend, friend not there but Collett lets her in to wait for her return…

One neighbor said Collett was one of the people out searching for Skylar and had asked if she had seen the little girl. When she saw Collett’s jail-booking photo on television Saturday, “I could not believe he was the one out heading the search,” she said. “My God. He knew all along.”

Investigators are processing the scene to find any evidence as to how Skylar died, and Beam said more information will be released once they receive the coroner’s report.

According to Skylar’s Facebook Memorial, her funeral services will be this Wednesday, the day after Christmas,  at Haisten Mccullough Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 6:00 p.m until 9:00 p.m. Her funeral will be the following day at Center Point Church of God. Afterwards, Skylar will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

I couldn’t imagine having to deal with my 9-year-old being murdered the weekend before Christmas, and buried the day after. If I get any donation info, I’ll update the article.

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