STEWARTSTOWN, N.H. — As authorities tried to determine how an 11-year-old girl wound up dead in a river near her house, her neighbors considered canceling their annual children’s fair. Instead, they decided to go forward and to dedicate the weekend event to the memory of Celina Cass.

State police and the town board of selectmen recommended the community hold the Stewartstown Days event despite the fifth-grader’s unexplained death.

“It’s still a scary place for our children. They need something that’s on a little happier note for them,” Patricia Grover, who is on the two-day event’s organizing committee, told The Associated Press.

Celina was reported missing on July 26. Her body was recovered Monday near a hydroelectric dam in the Connecticut River, a quarter-mile from her home.

Authorities described the girl’s death as suspicious pending the outcome of an autopsy. The results of that exam were expected to be released late this afternoon or early this evening in Concord, said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young.

Also today, investigators combed the area along the river, which divides Vermont and New Hampshire, above where Celina’s body was found.

The girl’s death was a bitter blow for residents in this town of 800 people near the Canadian border.

“You had that little bit of hope and when that went, it’s really a kick in the gut,” said Shannon Towle, at Towle’s Minimart in Stewartstown.

Her immediate family declined to comment.

“Right now the family is in mourning. Everybody’s shook up real bad right now,” said Walter Laro, Celina’s grandfather.

Celina’s stepfather, Wendell Noyes, stopped by Towle’s convenience store today, a day after he was reportedly hospitalized.

Witnesses said Noyes was taken away by ambulance Monday after lying down with his face in his arms outside a home where he had been staying. Hospital officials declined to say whether he was a patient, and this morning he bought some cigarettes at the store, Towle said.

For now, residents feel safe because of the strong police presence, but they were uneasy about not having answers to how Celina died.

“What’s going to be bad is when they’re all gone, especially if there’s no resolution. Whoever did this to her needs to pay for this,” Towle said.

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