TACOMA - Information provided by a man in custody on an immigration complaint has led police and the FBI to the body of a 12-year-old girl snatched from the alley behind her home during July 4 fireworks, Police Chief Don Ramsdell said Thursday night.
In a short statement, Ramsdell said the body of Zina Linnik was found Thursday at an undisclosed location in Pierce County and that crime scene investigators were combing the area.
The grim news brought "great anguish" to the Linnik family as well as Tacoma police and FBI agents who had worked to find the girl, Ramsdell said.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the Linnik family, and we will continue to put forth our best efforts to bring the perpetrator of this senseless and horrific crime to justice," Ramsdell said at a hastily arranged news conference outside Tacoma police headquarters.
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Ramsdell did not identify the man who provided the information. However, a partial license plate description of a gray van seen in the alley around the time Zina vanished led police to Terapon Adhahn, 42, a Thai immigrant who was convicted of incest in 1990.
A search of the home where Adhahn had been staying turned up "girl's undergarments," according to a search warrant return. Adhahn denied any involvement in Zina's disappearance and said he was not in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood July 4, Detective L.J. Wade wrote in an affidavit filed in Pierce County Superior Court in support of the search warrant application.
Investigators and forensic experts from the FBI searched the home Monday, seizing items including used vacuum cleaner filters, bedding, black plastic sheeting and the undergarments, for which the search warrant return did not provide further details.
Adhahn was later transferred to federal immigration detention in Tacoma because he could face deportation for his 1990 incest conviction, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.
But he also has been charged in Pierce County with failing to register as a sex offender, and would face that charge before being deported.
Ramsdell took no questions Thursday night.
Calls to Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum and the FBI were not immediately returned.
There was no immediate word on the cause of death or when the girl died.
Fulghum said earlier this week he did not know whether Adhahn had obtained a lawyer.
The Linnik family, of Ukrainian heritage, has asked not to be contacted by reporters, Fulghum said earlier.
Mikhail Linnik, the little girl's father and the person who provided the van description and partial license plate information, told The Seattle Times this week, "God works through the police. God controls everything."