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Bodies of 2 girls found in woods

'Best friends' stabbed to death in northern Illinois town

Krystal Tobias, left, and Laura Hobbs were reported missing Sunday evening.
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Watch the news conference with the Zion police chief and county coroner.

ZION, Illinois (CNN) -- Two girls, both under 10 and described as best friends, were Monday found killed in a wooded park near a small Illinois town.

The area coroner said Laura Hobbs and Krystal Tobias died from "stab wounds" but were not sexually assaulted.

"We do have two murdered children, and we don't have anybody in custody," Zion police chief Doug Malcolm said. He added investigators have "no solid leads."

The girls were reported missing by their parents Sunday evening.

Malcolm said: "No stone will be unturned. It's a heinous crime. It's a crime against not only those kids, but against all of us."

The cause of death appeared to be multiple stab wounds with a knife, said Lake County Coroner Richard Keller, adding at an afternoon news conference that autopsies were still under way.

No initial signs of sexual assault were found, he said.

Laura's grandmother, Emily Hollabaugh, said the girls may have gone to the park for a picnic.

"A couple of younger boys had seen them over at the park playing about 5:30 or 6 o'clock, and I guess that was the last time anybody saw them," Hollabaugh told Chicago television station WLS.

"Her brothers and sisters went out looking for her. They didn't find her, and then, about 9 o'clock, they called the police."

Hollabaugh said Laura was "a typical 8-year-old girl" who "always had a smile for everybody," and Krystal was "just as sweet as Laura was."

"I have a lot of questions, but it's just mostly rage at whoever could do this to two little girls," she said.

Volunteers searched all night

Keller earlier said the girls were found in a wooded area and were not covered.

Keller said there were "obvious injuries" and that police were looking for murder weapons. He said no DNA evidence had been found so far.

"Apparently these girls were best friends and had last been seen riding their bikes together earlier in the afternoon," Malcolm said.

The mother of one of the girls called police at about 8:50 p.m. (9:50 p.m. ET) to say that her daughter had failed to return home as scheduled at 7 p.m., the chief said.

He said police conducted a search with help from a rescue dog and local citizen volunteer group.

"They were out all night helping us search," he said of the volunteer group.

He said police put out flyers urging residents to look for the girls, but did not take further steps because "there was no indication that there was any specific foul play."

The bodies were discovered at Beulah Park around 6 a.m. (7 a.m. ET); police did not identify the person who found them.

Malcolm said the bodies were found off a bicycle path in a wooded area on the north end of the city park. At least one of the girls' bicycles was found at the scene.

Home to about 23,000 people, Zion is 44 miles north of Chicago. The town was founded in 1901 as a utopian society by a Scottish minister, Dr. John Alexander Dowie, according to its Web site.

Zion had three reported murders in 2002 and none in 2003, according to the police department's annual reports.

"This is an unusual occurrence for our community, and we are going to do everything we possibly can to bring this to a quick resolution," Mayor Lane Harrison said.

CNN's Keith Oppenheim contributed to this report.

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