PALESTINE — Local authorities continued their investigation Tuesday into the stunning death of an 8-year-old Palestine girl who was found deceased near her residence Sunday night.
Tori Blair Wilson, 8, a second-grader at Westwood Primary School, had been playing with other children in the 1100 block of CR 4259, northwest of the Palestine city limits, when she returned to her residence Sunday night following a neighborhood barbecue, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.
Some time later as it was beginning to get dark, Wilson went back outside, telling “another kid that she forgot something at that point,” the sheriff said.
After Wilson did not return to the residence, family members and others began to search for her, according to the sheriff.
Wilson was unresponsive when found by an adult neighbor shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday in a wooded area near her residence where the kids typically played, Taylor said.
Efforts to revive Wilson were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at Palestine Regional Medical Center, authorities have said.
Her body was found roughly 80 yards from her residence, according to Taylor.
An autopsy was performed on the girl’s body Monday at the Southeast Texas Forensic Science Center in Tyler, but the sheriff told the Herald-Press no preliminary cause or manner of death has been listed.
Taylor indicated his agency would be deliberate in its investigation, saying it may be several weeks before the girl’s manner of death is determined.
“It’s alarming any time an 8-year-old child dies,” Taylor said. “It’s just shocking when somebody that young passes away. It always raises red flags. That’s why we’re making sure we dot all our i’s and cross all our t’s...We’re not going to call it until we have the facts.”
Taylor has said the girl’s death did not appear to be from natural causes or homicide. The call was dispatched as a “medical emergency/possible suicide,” he added.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Tolliver spent much of Monday and Tuesday interviewing children and adults as part of the investigation in an effort to help determine “what was going on in her life,” the sheriff said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Russell, the lead investigator in the case, and Tolliver returned to the location Monday night “and processed the scene” for potential additional evidence, according to Taylor.
“There wasn’t a lot of physical evidence at the scene,” the sheriff stated.
Meanwhile, Taylor reiterated his position that the investigation would not be quickly finished.