A 13-year-old girl was found dead at a park in Oregon, about 24 hours after her mother reported her missing.
Officers responded to the Westside Linear Park in Beaverton before 3 p.m. to reports of “suspicious circumstances.” They found the body of Milana Li in a small stream off the Westside Regional Trail on May 10.
Li, a sixth-grade student at Conestoga Middle School, was last seen at her family’s apartment near Southwest Murray Boulevard and Southwest Scholls Ferry Road at around 4 p.m. on May 8. Her mother, Assel Li, reported her disappearance at around 1 p.m. on May 9.
While Li’s cause of death has yet to be disclosed, police said an autopsy found Li to have died in a homicide.
“We are all shocked,” Rstay Hofman, a friend of Assel, told Oregon Live. “It feels like we’re living in a movie. We live in such a safe neighborhood. How someone could do this to a 13-year-old we don’t understand.”
“We just think [Milana Li] went for a regular walk,” Hofman added. “It didn’t seem like she was a runaway because she left everything except her cellphone at home. We don’t know if she met someone or if she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, we just don’t know.”
The Li family moved to Beaverton three years ago from Pavlodar, Kazakhstan. They belong to a small Kazakh community in Oregon, which has been providing them with support during this time. Hofman said many mothers now fear for their children’s safety because no suspects have been identified yet.
“I didn’t really know how to feel. I started crying. My mom was crying with me,” Li’s classmate Romana told KATU. “She has a really kind personality. She was a really chill person, someone you can talk to about a lot of things. She was a really good friend to me; she was a really good friend to everyone else.”
School Principal Zan Hess said administrators will provide mental health resources for students, staff and parents.
Hofman created a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $50,000. Nearly $37,000 has been raised so far to support Li’s grieving family.
Police urge anyone with information regarding Li’s case to contact Detective Cindy Herring at 503-526-2280.