Residents believe Teresa Robinson was likely mauled by an animal, perhaps a bear, on her way home from a birthday party on the Garden Hill First Nation in northern Manitoba. But Chief Supt. Scott Kolody said Wednesday it was too early to dismiss the possibility of foul play.
"Right now, we are still investigating. That has not been ruled out," he told reporters.
Investigators, including a forensics team, were brought to the fly-in community 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. An autopsy was being conducted which could shed light on how the girl died, Kolody added.
David Harper, grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents First Nation communities in the province's north, said Robinson was last seen leaving a birthday party at around 9:00 p.m. on May 5.
At first, family members thought she may have slept over at a friend's place. It appears a few days passed before officials were alerted.
The girl's father phoned around, and the reserve's school launched a ground search, Harper said.
"When he phoned (the school) on Friday and said, 'Can you send my daughter home?', that's where ... ground searches were done," Harper said.
RCMP said they were not notified until the following Monday. Kolody would not comment on whether the passage of time has made the investigation more difficult. RCMP were still establishing a firm timeline of events, he said.
Kolody was tight-lipped about what RCMP might have learned so far.
"We appreciate that everyone wants to know what happened to this little girl, and so do we. In order to ensure that we get accurate information and that the investigation is not jeopardized in any way, we do ask for your understanding that, at this point, we cannot share details."