The father and stepmother of this nine-year-old girl who has been found dead in a field in Portugal have been arrested on suspicion of having killed her before hiding her body.
Valentina Fonseca, 9, had been reported as missing in the town of Peniche in the Leiria District of in central Portugal on 7th May and her body was found yesterday in the Atouguia de Baleia area by the authorities.
Her body was found in a field and had been covered by shrubs in an investigation involving 600 civil protection officers who searched over 4,000 hectares along with boy scouts.
The Judiciary Police confirmed that the victim’s father, 32, and stepmother, 38, had been arrested and accused of homicide and hiding a cadaver. Neither suspect has been named.
The coordinator of the Judiciary Police’s Criminal Investigation Department in Leiria, Fernando Jordao, said the girl may have been killed on the day she went missing (7th May) with her body being taken to the field at the end of the day.
He said that the authorities were working to establish the cause of death but added “it is clear that it happened in some context of violence” and was not accidental. Reports state the crime occurred at home.
The coordinator said he had not received information indicating that the child had been the victim of abuse by the father or that she was being tracked by the Commission for the Protection of Children and Youth.
He said Valentina normally lived with the mother but had been with her father “for some time” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diogo Morgado, spokesperson for the National Republican Guard said the girl had first been reported missing by her father in the morning of 8th May
Some reports had suggested that the father had confessed to hiding the body and shown the investigators where the body was, but Morgado did not confirm this. He said: “There was always information that was always passed on not only by the child’s father, but by other citizens and family members.
“That information was always collected and handled by us with the Judiciary Police. All the leads were analysed in the same way, we did not discard any.”
The girl’s mother, Sonia Fonseca, had written on social media before her body was found: “Oh my God, my love, my princess another night has passed, another day has come and more endless hours… My daughter, my princess, my angel, my love, my everything please come back to us, we are desperate… Come back into our arms for the love of God.”
The investigation is ongoing.