The Tri-State mourns for Jessica - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

The Tri-State mourns for Jessica

"Everyone heard me say, time after time that she would be home, she's home now, and it's over," sobbed Jessica's father Mark Lunsford at a press conference this afternoon.   

After a frantic overnight search, the body of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford was found early Saturday morning.  The discovery follows three weeks of searching for the little girl. 

Here in the Tri-State, Jessica's mother was surrounded by friends and family Saturday night. They gathered at the Church of the Living Waters in Lebanon for a gospel benefit.

Angela Bryant thanked everyone for their prayers, saying their support "...put a little bit in her heart, but her heart is still empty." Angela's husband, Lonnie Bryant, urged all parents to keep a close eye on their own children, reminding them, "you've only got one chance."

The Bryants are heading back to Florida, this time with a dozen family members by their sides. They hope to find out more about what happened to Jessica, and to see that those responsible are brought to justice.

Citrus County officers discovered Jessica's body in a wooded area about a 150 yards from her home.  The sheriff says they've combed that area in the last weeks, but bloodhounds never led them to that particular spot.

Police started a deeper search there after convicted sex offender John Couey confessed Friday to killing her and dumping her body.

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy described Couey, as a "crack head" and "truly a piece of trash."

Investigators aren't saying how Jessica died or how Couey came into contact with her.

Couey was arrested in Georgia Thursday, where he's currently being held.  He was reportedly living with his sister just across the street from the Lunsford's, and police say Couey disappeared after the girl was reported missing.

Three others also staying in that home are charged with obstruction of justice, police say the trio knew Couey was wanted and didn't notify police.

Citrus County Florida Sheriff  Jeff Dawsy says Friday, 47-year-old John Couey took a lie detector test. As soon as he completed the test, he told the investigators he already knew the results, then admitted that he had kidnapped and murdered Jessica.

 

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