Police: Missing woman found dead in creek not victim of foul play despite credit cards being stolen

Lucy Xiong's family delivers emotional speech at vigil
FRESNO, Calif. -- There's heartbreak on the banks of Fresno canal Monday night as Lucy Xiong's parents come to the reality their daughter is gone.

Fresno police recovered a body in the water on Saturday, and the coroner's office confirmed that person is Xiong two days later.

Accepting a child's death isn't easy for any father, and for Kor Xiong, the reality is almost impossible to handle.

"My heart hurts, I don't know what to do, I talk, I cry all day," he told the gathered crowd at a vigil.

As people gathered for this Hmong tradition of laying people to rest, Kor greeted every friend and stranger in the crowd repeating the same message.

"Today she's gone, never come back," he said.

And he's doing so while trying to convince himself of that truth.

"I can't forget her, she's always in my head, always in my mind," Kor exclaimed.

Lucy Xiong's disappearance had an entire city praying for her safe return until Monday when Fresno police confirmed the body recovered from this canal belonged to her.

Detectives say it appears she accidentally slipped and drowned, but the family has its doubts.

"I believe she would never kill herself, even if she is dead, her spirit will come back to us," Lucy's mom Chao Yang said through a translator.

Healing hasn't come easy for this family, who say finding Lucy offers little closure.

"I can't believe that she float in the water, I can't believe it, maybe someone struck her," Kor said.

The body was found Saturday in a central Fresno canal. The 20-year-old disappeared more than a week ago.

Xiong went missing Friday, July 28 after running away from home. Her boyfriend told detectives that during their final phone conversation, Xiong seemed to be walking on gravel when she screamed and the line disconnected.
"There were no injuries found on Lucy Xiong's body that would have caused her death, so at this point and time the cause of death is determined to be drowning," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

While the case remains under investigation, Dyer believes Xiong accidentally fell into the Fresno canal back on July 28 somewhere near First and McKinley and never recovered.

"There's also no evidence to suggest Lucy Xiong's death involved foul play," Dyer said.

But that's not what her father believes.

RELATED: Body discovered in Central Fresno canal likely Lucy Xiong, police say

"I believe someone abducted her and did something bad to her because she would never do this to herself," Lucy's father Kor Xiong said. "We're not going to stop because we believe something else happened to her."

Investigators have interviewed one of the suspects who allegedly stole Xiong's identity the night she went missing. That suspect is not believed to be involved in Xiong's death but is expected to be arrested later this week on fraud charges after finding Xiong's purse near the canal and taking her credit cards.

"She's very cooperative, she understands that she's going to be arrested," Dyer said. "It's just the timing of that arrest, tie up some loose ends prior to the arrest."
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