TROIS RIVIERES, - Eight years after she vanished near her home in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, nine-year-old Cedrika Provencher has finally been found.
Quebec provincial police announced Saturday night that human remains discovered in the woods outside the city were those of Cedrika, who went missing on July 31, 2007.
News of the discovery prompted an outpouring of condolences on social media, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"My heart goes out to the family of Cedrika Provencher," he tweeted. "May you finally be able to mourn your daughter and may she rest in peace."
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also expressed his sympathy for the Provencher family on Twitter.
Cedrika's disappearance spawned massive manhunts, a huge police investigation as well as the recruiting of many others to help find the freckle-faced girl whose missing person posters once graced lamp posts and store fronts across the region.
Despite a large reward and several suspects being questioned over the years, no arrests have been made.
Cedrika was last seen being approached by an adult to help search for a missing black and white dog on the evening of July 31. She was never seen again.
On Sunday, a Facebook post attributed to Cedrika's grandfather Henri Provencher thanked the public for helping the family to look for the girl.
"Despite the pain and broken heart, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Cedrika's family all the population, police, media, and numerous volunteers who helped and participated in the search from near and far," said the post on the Facebook page dedicated to Cedrika.
"You showed great generosity and a great solidarity in the horror we're living."
Pina Arcamone of the Missing Childrens' network said she was both relieved and saddened for Cedrika's family. She said it is always devastating to lose the hope of finding one's child alive, but hopes the family will finally be able to grieve.
Martin Prud'homme, the director-general of the Quebec provincial police, would not elaborate on whether or not police had any new leads, saying only the case was "progressing."
He said he spoke with the young girl's parents Sunday morning and was at the site where the remains were discovered in the afternoon to check on the investigation.
Prud'homme, who was part of the team investigating the disappearance in 2007, said the case brought back memories for him and remains "particularly close to my heart."
The remains discovered in the woods were turned over to forensics experts for analysis after they were discovered by Friday evening.
On Sunday, about 50 officers were on the site where the body was discovered.
They were expected to continue their search Monday morning.