Clearlake police announced on Wednesday that they had found the body of a 9-year-old girl in a creek near her parent's vacation home.
The grim discovery in Cache Creek had been what Mikaela Lynch's parents had dreaded. Their daughter, who has autism and the mental capacity of a 1-year-old girl, had wandered off on Sunday afternoon and hadn't been seen since.
"Unfortunately, we have a conclusion to the search," said Clearlake Police Chief Craig Clausen.
A search and dive rescue team found the girl's body in the Lake County creek before noon. Clausen said her family asked to be left alone.
He himself was having a hard time facing reporters and answering their questions. "It's difficult for me to even stand here and speak," he said.
Her classmates in San Francisco at Sunset Elementary School had hoped she would have been found.
"It's sad, they found her in the water," said Parent Byron Chin.
Mikaela was reported missing on Sunday afternoon by her family.
She had been playing in the yard with her brother who went inside to get away from a bee and then she likely wandered off.
Hundreds of volunteers and public safety officers had fanned out looking for her around the clock since Sunday.
Clear Lake is a city about 120 north of San Francisco. Clear Lake, the lake, is the largest natural freshwater lake entirely in California. Its sole outlet is Cache Creek.
Mikaela liked water but did not know how to swim.
Police were told she often removed her clothes when she was hot.
They found articles of her clothing in the yard.
A surveillance video from a neighbor's house showed her running toward land, but in the end, that turned out not to be the case.
NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle, Christie Smith and Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.