(SCOTTSVILLE, Ky.) — A parent’s worst nightmare became a tragic reality for Brian and Amy Doolin when their 7-year-old daughter, Gabriella “Gabby” Doolin, was found dead just minutes after being separated from her parents during a football game in Kentucky on Saturday. And now, authorities have ruled her death a homicide.
The Doolins were at a pee-wee football jamboree in Scottsville, near the Tennessee border, when Gabby went missing at 7:40 p.m., according to the Kentucky State Police. The Doolins immediately asked the game’s announcer to call her name and alerted the Scottsville Police Department. When she didn’t come forward, game-goers joined police in searching for the girl.
“A lot of people helped looking for her,” Kentucky State Police spokesman Barry Eaton told ABC News.
Just 25 minutes after Gabby went missing, a search volunteer spotted her body in a wooded area on the edge of the Allen County Scottsville High School, about 400 yards from the school’s football field where she was last seen alive, police said.
“The area was a wooded areas but it wasn’t a secluded area,” Eaton said, which allowed her body to be found quickly. The medical examiner’s office in Louisville ruled on Monday that Gabby’s death was a homicide, Eaton said, but detectives are not releasing the cause of death or any leads they may have on the investigation.
Gabby had come to the game to cheer for her older brother, Alec. Fighting back tears, the fifth-grader told ABC affiliate WKRN his sister “made everybody feel better.”
“She was always so happy about everything. No matter what was going on, she was always happy,” he said, his voice breaking. “I miss her.”
In two separate Facebook posts, Gabby’s dad, Brian Doolin, thanked everyone for their support and said he wants justice for his daughter. A GoFundMe Page has received more than $30,000 to offset the costs of Gabby’s funeral, and more than 500 people attended a vigil for Gabby on Sunday.
“I’d give anything to hold my baby girl just one more time,” Doolin wrote. “I love her with all my heart … please continue to pray for my family … I would of gladly traded places with my baby girl.”
Allen County Sheriff Jeff Cooke also took to his personal Facebook page to thank the community for rallying around the Doolins. Scottsville, about 65 miles northeast of Nashville in neighboring Tennessee, is a town of just 4,000 people.
No arrests have been made in connection to the case, but Cooke said Gabby’s murder is believed to be an isolated incident.
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