The missing girl was found, but now the mourning begins.
Authorities found a body Thursday they think is Jade Morris, a 10-year-old girl missing for almost a week.
Her body was discovered in an unfinished development in a North Las Vegas neighborhood near Deer Springs Way and North Fifth Street.
Brenda Stokes, 50, the fiancee of Jade's father, was last seen with the girl about 5 p.m. Dec. 21 but has not cooperated with police. She has not been charged with the death, as detectives continued to collect and analyze evidence.
Capt. Chris Jones, who oversees the Las Vegas police homicide section, said the girl was discovered about 12:30 p.m. by a person walking a dog.
Police will defer to the Clark County coroner's office to officially identify the girl, but Jade's family had been notified of their discovery.
"I can tell you the likelihood is, this is our victim," Jones said at a news conference.
Sources told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that police treated the investigation into Jade's disappearance as a likely homicide since the night of Dec. 21, when Stokes was arrested at Bellagio hotel-casino after authorities said she slashed the face of a blackjack dealer.
Police discovered after her arrest that Jade was last seen with Stokes around 5 p.m. that day, but the girl was nowhere to be found.
At Stokes' apartment, detectives found bloody clothes that may have belonged to Jade, sources said. Detectives were comparing the DNA on the clothes against Jade's mother's DNA.
The discovery marked a somber end to a day that began with faint hope Jade would be found alive.
Tejuana Reeves, Jade's mother, joined members of a volunteer search and rescue group to comb through the desert areas around Stokes' home near Rainbow Boulevard and Wigwam Parkway earlier Thursday morning.
The search ended abruptly after volunteers learned detectives already had been through that area.
"We're just waiting for the next move," Reeves said shortly before the police news conference.
She was distraught and unable to comment Thursday night, family friend Ni'Cola Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the family wanted to thank the volunteers who searched for Jade and the media, which kept the girl's face in the news.
"What happened today is terrible, and whomever did this needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law because she did not deserve this," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said Jade's parents planned to attend Stokes' court appearance this morning.
During her first appearance Wednesday, Morris confronted Stokes and shouted, "Where's my baby at?" before a bailiff escorted him into the hallway.
Although Stokes has not yet been charged in Jade's disappearance, she has been jailed since Dec. 21 and charged with several felonies.
According to her arrest report, Stokes went to Bellagio about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and slashed a blackjack dealer's face with a pair of razor blades. Stokes and the dealer, 44-year-old Joyce Rhone, both worked in the casino.
Reeves said Wednesday she believes that Stokes was a scorned lover retaliating against Rhone and Stokes' fiance, Philip Morris.
Stokes was engaged to Morris and dated him for almost four years, although he was living in Montana the past year. Reeves suspected a love triangle involving Morris, Stokes and Rhone.
"There must have been something going on between that woman and (Jade's father), and Brenda found out about it," said Reeves, 41.
"I never had a problem with Brenda. She had no reason to retaliate against me.
"I'm thinking she's done something to Jade to get back at him."
Rhone survived the attack but was hospitalized with deep cuts to her face, including a gash from her ear to the edge of her mouth. She had three or four smaller cuts around her right eye.
Stokes told police she received harassing phone calls from Rhone about a betrayal that ended the pair's seven-year friendship, according to her arrest report. The report didn't delve into the nature of the betrayal.
After the slashing, she told police she would have killed Rhone if casino security hadn't stopped her.
"Hell, yeah," Stokes told detectives.
"I would have whooped that ass. I would have killed her," Stokes said, according to the report. "I should have killed her."
Police said Stokes, also known as Brenda Wilson, was carrying razor blades in both hands when she approached Rhone's table and began slashing. She also was carrying a bag with three additional blades, police said.
Stokes told police she recently had seen her doctor "due to feeling like she wanted to hurt someone" and that "sometimes people just snap," the report said. She wasn't taking her Xanax prescription the day of the attack.
Jade's family said the girl had a good relationship with Stokes, whom she sometimes referred to as a "stepmother."
Stokes told Reeves she was taking Jade to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets in the downtown area.
"She would come and take Jade shopping. On birthdays, Christmas, they would be hanging out," Reeves said on Wednesday. "It was not uncommon that she would come and get her."
Evidence collected by police will be submitted to the Clark County district attorney's office to determine charges.
Stokes is being held at the Clark County jail on charges of burglary, battery with a deadly weapon, battery with use of a deadly weapon with substantial bodily harm and mayhem.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.