GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Police announced that the remains of a Gaston County three-year-old girl were found Tuesday near the home where she was reported missing Monday afternoon.
The Gaston County district attorney said Jordyn Ann Dumont's remains were partially concealed.
"It is with deep regret that I'm announcing we have found the remains of what appear to be a toddler," said Gaston County Police Chief Joseph Ramey. "We are working to recover those remains and to make a positive identification."
The chief made the announcement around 11 a.m. and said police had found the remains in a wooded area near the home.
Police later charged the mother's boyfriend, William "Billy" McCullen, with first-degree murder.
He will appear in court for the first time Wednesday.
McCullen told Eyewitness News reporter Alexa Ashwell on Monday that the disappearance of the girl was “like a bad dream.”
The chief would not give information about the condition of the remains or if there were any wounds or injuries.
Click below to watch the full press conference
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Gaston police said they believe the toddler was dead before being put in the woods. They think her remains had been there for 24 to 36 hours.
The chief asked for the public's help establishing a timeline of McCullen's whereabouts before Jordyn was reported missing.
On Tuesday evening, community members created a memorial outside of the girl's home. Family and neighbors of the 3-year-old will hold a vigil in her honor Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Prices Arena on Dallas Cherryville Highway in Bessemer City.
On Wednesday, dozens of people added to the memorial for Jordyn, which has expanded to two locations.
Channel 9 saw a family member leave flowers, as well as Gaston County police officers stopping by.
Some people came to pray at the memorial with their own loved ones, and friends of McCullen even stopped by.
They said they were surprised that McCullen is now facing murder charges in Jordyn's death, and that he used to watch their own children.
“I'm torn down the middle because I don’t think that he could do something like that. I'm just shell shocked,” the friend said.
Jordyn’s death has impacted many people, like Nicole Stowe, who showed up Wednesday with friends to pay their respects.
“I followed it since they said she was missing and was going to come search,” said Stowe. “It was just too close to home.”
“It's just heartbreaking,” neighbor Dusty Conner said.
Conner told Channel 9 that the couple and two children moved into the house behind hers about a year and a half ago, and sometimes Jordyn would come into her yard to play.
“She was a happy little girl when she was down here playing," Conner said.
She sometimes heard the couple shouting from the home on the other side of the fence.
“Her screaming, ‘Please stop hitting me, just don't hit me no more,’” Conner said.
Because of that arguing, Conner said she called police at least four times in the past six months.
Police have been called out to the home 49 times in the past three years on various calls, including noise disturbances, domestic instances and thefts, police said Tuesday.
Authorities are not sure if those calls were specific to the mother, Jaylene Dumont, and McCullen, who live there now.
Channel 9 looked into McCullen's criminal past and found that the 25-year-old was arrested in December 2009 for maintaining a place for a controlled substance and using or possessing drug paraphernalia.
He received a suspended sentence and got probation.
"We appreciate everyone's assistance, but again, we do not believe we have gotten the outcome that we were hoping for," Ramey said.
He told Channel 9 earlier Tuesday that an extensive investigation was under way and that the FBI was headed to the scene to help.
Earlier that morning, Gaston County emergency officials and about 100 volunteers resumed their search for Jordyn near Bessemer City.
It was an emotional day for those who had gathered to help look for Jordyn.
“I lost it. I mean, I broke down like a baby,” neighbor Ronnie Adams said. “It kills me knowing that someone could sink to the level of doing this to a child."
Channel 9 reporter Gina Esposito was there as officials broke the news of Jordyn's death to the more than 100 volunteers.
Many were in tears and the Gaston County Fire Chaplain said a prayer with the group, who have been out searching since 7 a.m.
“It’s been a horrified dream,” neighbor Ashley Willis said.
The group of volunteers was made up of mostly strangers -- some were neighbors of Jordyn’s family in Bessemer City, others drove from different communities around Charlotte just to help.
“I’m just sick to my stomach of a situation like this,” neighbor Larry Short said.
Volunteers told Esposito that they feel for the toddler’s family.
"I hate to hear it for any parent,” said volunteer Amanda Griffin. “I hate to hear it. Stay close to your kids."
Jordyn disappeared from a house on Bess Town Road around 1 p.m. Monday, officials said.
The mother's boyfriend put Jordyn down for a nap at about that time, the boyfriend told police Monday.
He told investigators that he then also took a nap and when he woke up around 3:30 p.m. he realized Jordyn wasn't in the home and the front door was open.
At a Monday evening news conference, police said they would continue the search into the night using the Highway Patrol's helicopter equipped with a heat-sensing camera.
Police used four-wheelers and K9 units to comb nearby woods all afternoon before suspending their active ground search at about 9:30 p.m. Monday.
They resumed around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Overnight, neighbors continued searching the woods around the child’s home, and told Channel 9 they were upset that police had stopped their search.
They said they were not willing to stop until Jordyn was found.
“It's very important to me to help these people find their kids because if it happened to mine I would want the same in return,” said Charity Neal.
But police told Channel 9 that they had been looking for Jordyn all night.
“We’ve been working through the night, contrary to popular belief,” said Ramey. “We've been out here all night. In addition, we've been following up additional leads that weren't on this scene.”
Ramey said Monday that if the girl was in the immediate area, they would have found some trace of her.
No Amber Alert was issued because there has been no sign of an abduction, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 704-866-3320.
Stay with wsoctv.com for more on this story.
Editor's Note: Initial reports from authorities indicated the girl is four years old and was sleeping while her father was also sleeping. Later, authorities confirmed the girl is three years old and she was sleeping while her mother's boyfriend was also sleeping. Police also had the little girl's name as Jordan, but it was later corrected to be Jordyn.
Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:
- Body of missing 3-year-old girl found; mother's boyfriend charged
- Neighbors say Gaston Co. toddler found dead lived in abusive home
- 1 dead, 2 in custody after officer-involved shooting at Lenoir Walmart
- Gator surprises beachgoers after washing ashore on Myrtle Beach
- Missing persons case now being investigated as homicide
Cox Media Group