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Investigation into missing girl's death painstakingly slow

<p>Photo: KING</p>

More than eight months after she was found dead and encased in concrete beneath a Snohomish County trailer, exactly what happened to little Tianna Kirschner remains a mystery.

To many the case may seem open and shut, but it is proving a painstaking process for police and prosecutors.

Investigators found what they believe are the remains of 9-year-old Tianna Kirchner in a plastic storage bin beneath an Everett mobile home last October. They were acting on a tip from a distant relative who said they child hadn't been seen since she was about 4 years old.

When DSHS workers questioned the child's parents, they gave varying stories about the girl's whereabouts. According to police, the mother finally admitted to her daughter's death, but again gave multiple reasons ranging from an blow to the head by a sibling to an accidental drowning in the bathtub. There are no records of the child ever attending school.

KING 5 is not naming the parents because they have not been charged with a crime. A DSHS investigation determined both were responsible for negligent treatment of the girl but not responsible for physical abuse.

>> Read the DSHS report

Prosecutors believe an autopsy on Tianna has been completed, but that information is not being made public as the investigation is continuing.

The lead detective in the case was supposed to have his report to prosecutors by June, but it still isn't ready. Both Snohomish County Sheriff's Office officials and prosecutors say the detective has been buried with other major crimes, including testimony in a high profile trial.

"Whenever children are involved in cases like this we want to make sure we get it right," said Snohomish County chief criminal investigator, Craig Matheson. "I know he wants to make sure every T is crossed in this one."

The couple's two other children were taken into protective custody. It's unclear with whom they are living at this point.

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