The body is believed to belong to young Maliyah "Tootie" Bass, who was the subject of an Amber Alert issued on Saturday.
Formal identification of the body has not been completed, but Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said there is a "high probability it will be her."
This is heartbreaking.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) August 23, 2020
Please keep Maliyah Bass in the forefront of your thoughts and prayers. The men and women of @houstonpolice will move quickly to ascertain the identity of this child and cause of death. In the event of fowl play we will do all we can to seek justice. https://t.co/1gb3FweJVl
"We don't want to give people false hope," explained Acevedo. "We want to hold on to a little hope, but we want to prepare for the worst. Based on the proximity to where (Maliyah) was reported missing, there's a high probability that it is her."
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With no leads or an official suspect, Acevedo is urging anyone with information to immediately contact authorities.
"If you live or have a business by the bayou, roll back for the last 24 hours and take an extensive look at any camera you might have," said Acevedo. "If you saw anything suspicious in the last 24 hours (or) just anything that's happened along this bayou, just call us right away."
Moving forward, Acevedo said police are "approaching this as a murder investigation" and has tasked Texas EquuSearch to help conduct additional searches for evidence, such as pulling up maps of the area surrounding the bayou and tracking the area where the girl was reported missing.
"It is a sad day," said Acevedo. "You look over, and you look at a little baby, (and) I can just tell you that we would do anything to have that baby alive now. Our job is to try our very best to find out what happened. That little baby needs justice."
On Saturday, her grandmother cried and begged for her safe return, saying, "She's little. She didn't do anything to anybody."
"We're going to catch them," said Acevedo when asked to relay a message to person or persons who may be responsible. "We're going to find them, and we're going to charge them."