Even though investigators haven't confirmed the identity of the body they found west of Golden City on Wednesday afternoon, the community knows who it is and they're starting to come to grips with a new reality.
"The town will change for now and forever," said Henry Lopez, Mayor of Golden City. "This will cause a different way of life for the people of Golden City. No longer can they let their children go to the park, ride their bikes the way it used to be. Now we'll be careful and watchful. It's not a fun thing."
Officials announced that a body had been found at about 1:50 p.m. on Wednesday, but they remained tight-lipped about the investigation into Monday's disappearance of 12-year-old Adriaunna Horton, the Golden City child who was apparently kidnapped.
Officials have said Horton was last seen on Monday, Aug. 19, getting into a vehicle near Hazel Park in Golden City. Bobby D. Bourne, Jr., 34, Lamar has been charged with felony kidnapping and is being held in the Barton County Jail in Lamar on $1 million bond.
Family members have said Bourne was an acquaintance of the family and worked with Adriaunna's father, James Horton. Adriaunna had played with Bourne's own children in the past.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Watson, acting as spokesman for the Southwest Missouri Major Case Squad, said the process of identifying the body found Wednesday could take 24 hours.
He said investigators were releasing all the information they could without threatening the integrity of the investigation.
But community members have heard from Horton's family that the body is Adriaunna's and they're processing a new reality in this small town of about 720 people in the southeast corner of Barton County.
"I've been raised here and we always thought, this was Golden City, nothing happens here," said Cathy Evans as she watched her sons, Trey and Trenton Evans speak to a television reporter in Hazel Park.
"We'd send our kids up to this park all the time, and now this happens," Evans said. "I'll never send them here unsupervised again. I'll come over and sit on a swing if I have to. A girl in this house across the street has a daughter, I live with my kids just down the street, another couple of kids live just over there. Adriaunna and her sisters lived just down the street there. We created this park to be a safe place to play and exercise with all this exercise equipment. Not anymore."
Evans and Dixie Taylor talked about the history of the tiny park. It was created only about three years ago. The land was donated by the owners of the Pugh Funeral Home after the owner's mother, Hazel Pugh died. The home was torn down and a walking track, playground equipment and exercise equipment was installed.
Page 2 of 2 - Four of Adriaunna's classmates in Golden City Elementary's sixth grade class sat at one of the park benches under the watchful eye of parents and poured over yearbook photos featuring a smiling, laughing little girl enjoying life in a small-town school.
She had just completed the first day of sixth grade the day she was kidnapped.
"It sucks that she had to go," said classmate Blake Taylor.
"Especially after the first day of school," added Blake's cousin, Jacob Taylor.
"She had a lot of fun that day," said another classmate, Trenton Evans. "I smiled at her and she smiled back at me like she always does. I made a joke about Mr. Gray and he started laughing and I smiled at her and she started smiling back."
The students said they wanted to create a memorial to Adriaunna in the park.
"I'm thinking about something that says 'In memory of Adriaunna Horton, the last time she had fun was here,'" Trenton Evans said. "I really want to get that out. This was the last place she had fun."