Officials believe body in river is missing 5-year-old girl
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office believes a body found in the Wisconsin River on Thursday is that of 5-year-old Angela Girton.
Officials said the clothes on the body and other evidence led them to believe the body is Girton’s. Dental records are being used to confirm her identity.
Richland County officials said that with a babysitter’s permission, Angela and three other children left a babysitter’s house April 6 and traveled down to the Wisconsin River to have a picnic. At some point Angela reportedly fell in the water and her sibling and another child were unsuccessful when they linked arms and tried to reach her with a stick.
Sheriff James J. Bindl said the area the body was found had been searched before. He said the water was higher at the time Girton went missing. He said it was a surprise to find her body so far away from where it went missing.
Bindl said the district attorney will receive the investigation once it’s finished, and the DA will make decisions on if charges are warranted. He said he has no knowledge of whether there are criminal charges pending.
Richland County Chief Deputy Chad Kanable said the sheriff’s department received a 911 call around 5:50 p.m. Thursday from a citizen reporting that he saw what he believed to be a body floating in the Wisconsin River.
Kanable said when deputies responded to the area they found and recovered the body of a juvenile female near the Village of Port Andrew.
“I got the call that they found her. There were no details until we got down to the Lone Rock Fire Department. We were assured that a local homeowner had found her about five or six feet away from the shore while he was spraying for some poison ivy,” said Jessica Christianson, Angela’s aunt.
Jessica Christianson said the family wanted to thank everyone that has been part of the search effort to try and find Angela.
“It’s an awesome feeling deep down inside that we finally got closure,” she said.
Family members say a visitation open to community members will take place Friday, June 5 at the Richardson-Stafford Funeral Home in Spring Green. Angela’s funeral will take place there the following day.
Bindl said in his 23 years in law enforcement he hasn’t seen such an outpouring of support from people who came out to help search for Girton.
Richland County Emergency Management and the Lone Rock Fire Department along with DNR wardens searched parts of the Wisconsin river near Gotham for Angela. They used boats, a drone, an airplane and a Madison police cadaver dog to search the area where Angela went in the water.
Angela has been remembered as an active and happy 5-year-old, who just celebrated a birthday on April 1.
Richland County Emergency Management officials said crews had been out searching over the weekend for Angela, and were out as recently as Thursday afternoon before the body was found.