MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) – The body of a 13-year-old girl was found in an apartment building in Manchester Friday morning.
Her family and police identified her as Zaniya Wright.
The family said that Zaniya was being bullied at school. They said maybe that had something to do with her death.
“Zaniya was a very strong girl,” said Alena Baker, a family friend.
The girl was initially reported missing by her mother around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Police said they responded to the apartment complex at 40 Olcott St. around 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
“An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the death of this 13-year-old female,” said Lt. Ryan Shea, Manchester police. “Right now, the investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Unit, Manchester Police Detective Unit and the state’s attorney’s office.”
They said the girl was found in the basement of the building. They described the area as a “common area” in the building, not a storage space.
Police said they are looking at multiple scenes, but focused on the apartment complex.
Family members say the girl did not live at the apartment building.
Police are now questioning anyone who may have been with Wright or who had knowledge of her whereabouts.
As of Friday morning, the case had not been classified as a homicide.
However, the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Unit was called to help with the investigation.
Baker said Wright’s death is a tragic end to a sad life. She said Wright had been dealing with bullying as a seventh-grader at Illing Middle School.
The family described Wright as a kind, quiet girl, who was close with her mother.
“She was just into beauty and fashion and stuff like that,” Baker said.
Family members say they spent all night searching for Wright, and at some point they learned she might be at the apartment complex. They said they urged police to search there, but they don’t think officers showed enough urgency in doing so.
“It seems like they’re not really compassionate sometimes, like they’re like ‘oh, it’s just a kid who ran away, she’ll be back soon’,” Baker said.
The Manchester School District released a statement saying:
“Dear Manchester Public Schools Community,
Earlier today we were made aware of the tragic death of Zaniya Wright, a seventh-grader at Illing Middle School. I want to offer our most sincere condolences and prayers to Zaniya’s family, her many friends, and people throughout our community traumatized by this terrible news. For all those who knew Zaniya both at school and in the community, this is a heartbreaking and incredibly sad day. We will have counselors available at Illing from 5-7 p.m. tonight and again from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow to support students who want an adult to speak with or even just a safe space to grieve. In times like this it is important to be able to lean on and take care of one another and the district is committed to ensuring all members of our school community are supported. I know you join me in keeping Zaniya, her family, and all those who loved her in your thoughts and prayers.”
Manchester police haven’t yet returned a request for a response, but earlier in the day, they defended how they handled the missing person search.
“The information that we had last night, she was reported missing, she was entered as a missing person and we continued that investigation,” Lt. Shea said.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Manchester police.
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