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U.P.I., January 23, 1989

Divers found the body of 6-year-old Abigail Blythe in Buffalo Creek Sunday, authorities said. The girl had been missing since Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday marked the fourth time divers had searched the creek. The child's body was found in shallow water about one mile from her home, authorities said.

When asked Monday if the case was being investigated as anything other than an accident, Guilford County Sheriff Maj. Larry Linthicum said, ''Not at this time.''

Authorities are waiting to hear from the North Carolina Medical Examiners Office on the cause of death, Linthicum said.

Authorities had figured on scaling back the search for Blythe, but on Saturday, searchers found a beret worn by the girl and that prompted authorities to continue searching the rugged area just outside the Greensboro city limits.

The hat, similar to one worn by actress Sharon Gless of the television series ''Cagney and Lacy,'' was purchased for Abagail recently by her mother. Abagail had become an avid fan of the blond TV detective.

On Sunday, Tom Brown, a professional tracker from New Jersey hired by the girl's family, found the girl's footprints near a landfill that led to the discovery, authorities said.

The footprints and beret were found on the south side of Buffalo Creek. Blythe's home is on the north side of the frigid, brush-entangled waters of the creek, authorities said.

''There was some evidence from the footprints that she had started to run and stumble, panic sort of,'' said Capt. Ben Scarboro of the Guilford County Sheriff's Department.

The hat was found in an area that had been combed by volunteers previously.

Abigail was last seen at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday as she played in her front yard while her mother napped inside their home.

The parents had begun to hope their child had been kidnapped.

''I'm clinging to the hope that she was abducted,'' said her father, Ralph Blythe, on Saturday. ''If she was, there's a 50-50 chance she's alive.''

On Friday, a psychic told the family that the little girl had drowned in waters near the home.

''You can't imagine the heartache involved when you don't know,'' the father told The Greensboro News & Record. ''You can imagine all kinds of possibilities.''

Bloodhounds had searched the area with no result.

Abigail was described as an academically gifted youngster. She disappeared after her mother had laid down for a brief nap after being exhausted sitting up most of the night with Abigail's 20-month-old sister, Hannah, who was suffering an earache.

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