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May 10, 2013 12:09 PM by NBC News

Investigators believe missing toddler is dead, but haven't located remains

(KSHB) For nearly 10 hours a small army of law enforcement personnel combed through an Ottawa, Kansas farm Thursday in search of the remains of 18-month-old Lana Bailey.

Despite Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards' announcement that Lana is presumed dead, the toddler's family is still hopeful for a positive outcome.

"They don't have the evidence to presume her dead," said Lana's aunt, Shawna Pettijohn. "They have a confession but no evidence, so we are hoping that the confession is false."

Lana's mother, Kaylie Bailey, was found dead at the farm this week, along with Andrew Stout and Steven White.

The sheriff's department arrested 27-year-old Kyle Flack on suspicion of first-degree murder in the case, but would not confirm if he in fact confessed to the crime.

Pettijohn said she can't understand why someone would hurt an innocent child.

"We've said before that she can't be a witness. She can't turn anyone in," Pettijohn said. "If she is dead, if she is harmed, she is a true victim."

Lana's paternal grandmother Rachel Helms-Bailey, who lives in Lebanon, Mo., had one message for her grandbaby: "Lana, I love you very very much. I'll see you when I get to heaven."

Searchers plan to return to the farm Friday at 10 a.m.

The Franklin County prosecutor has 48 hours from the time of an arrest to file charges. Flack was arrested Thursday morning at about 4:30 a.m.

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