A 4-year-old girl missing in Charlotte County was found dead by deputies near a canal on Friday.
Evelyn Geer was reported missing around 1 a.m. on Friday. She was sleeping with her parents and somehow wandered off, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Her parents were staying at a Port Charlotte Vrbo rental, along Barksdale Street after being displaced by Hurricane Ian in September, WINK News has confirmed.
According to deputies, Evelyn had autism. Her parents usually have a deadbolt lock on their home’s door, but according to the sheriff’s office, their rental didn’t have one.
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 calls in the case.
“This can’t be happening,” Evelyn’s mother said on the 911 call.
Evelyn’s mother was frantic on the call, describing what her daughter was last seen wearing: “Just a diaper,” she said. “Oh, God. Oh, God! … She’s about 3 feet tall with long brown hair and a ponytail,” her mother said.
The dispatcher asked Evelyn’s mother to check everywhere in the house.
Her mother explained they were in a temporary home, but they usually have a deadbolt in place; however, the rental didn’t have one.
“She’s screaming… she thinks that her daughter is missing. Her front door was wide open,” said a first responder at the scene.
Rescue teams found the little girl shortly after 7 a.m.
“Unfortunately, I am here to provide an update for you. We have located Evelyn deceased,” said Claudette Smith, a public information officer with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. “She’s located behind the canal, behind the homes on Barksdale Street, Port Charlotte.”
A neighbor said he woke up to helicopters at 4 a.m.
“It startled me,” Steve Stotler said. “I went out to the street to see what was going on, and that’s when the officer told me they were looking for a 4-year-old girl.”
Linda Kopycai, a neighbor, said she was woken by deputies who wanted to look at her surveillance footage.
“It’s the scariest thing to have a cop knock on your door at 3 in the morning because they never bring good news at 3,” she said. “We showed him all the videos that we had.”
“I’m heartbroken, man,” said Tony Miller, who works in the neighborhood. “It makes me want to cry.”
This remains an active investigation.