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Girl, 9, laid to rest as murder suspect, 15, appears in court

Elizabeth Olten, 9, was remembered as a girl who was always smiling and playing dress up.
Elizabeth Olten, 9, was remembered as a girl who was always smiling and playing dress up.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 15-year-old suspect accused planning, carrying out murder of 9-year-old
  • Elizabeth Olten disappeared after returning home from friends house in Missouri
  • Olten, 9, and suspect had played together before, family spokeswoman says
  • Judge will be deciding whether to charge suspect as an adult or juvenile

(CNN) -- A 9-year-old girl was laid to rest Wednesday as a 15-year-old girl, described as an acquaintance, was in court on charges she carried out the younger girl's murder

Elizabeth Olten was coming home from a friend's house last week in St. Martins, Missouri, when she disappeared.

Distraught residents searched for days for Olten without luck, when the Cole County Sheriff's Department received a tip that led them to the alleged killer.

It didn't lead them to a stranger, a child predator or a convicted sex offender -- avenues police had originally considered because of Olten's age

Instead, it led them to a 15-year-old girl who, according to Peggy Florence, a family spokeswoman, had played with Olten.

The girl then led police to the body -- which was found in an area authorities searched before, the sheriff's department said, but was hidden so well they hadn't seen it. Authorities said both physical evidence and some written evidence led to the suspect's arrest. She has been charged with first-degree murder.

Video: 9-year-old played with suspect
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On Wednesday, Olten's family looked towards closure as two drastically different scenes unfolded in Missouri.

Olten's family and friends watched as two white horses pulled her casket in a glass hearse. Hours earlier, a judge had ordered the 15-year-old suspect to be held while he decides whether she should be tried in adult court. Authorities have not released the suspect's name.

Authorities released few details about the case, though they said an autopsy was conducted Saturday.

The Olten family spent the day of Elizabeth's funeral remembering a very special little girl and mourning their loss, choosing to celebrate her life, instead of attending the court hearing of the teen accused of killing her. After the funeral ceremony, they released pink balloons, in honor of Elizabeth Olten's favorite color.

For them, it was about their little girl -- the one who was always ready with a bright smile.

"She wanted to be a mother, she wanted to love others and take care of others," family spokeswoman Florence told HLN's Nancy Grace. "She was just a lovely child -- she never met an animal she didn't love and dress up and play with."

She loved to dress up and put on fancy dresses, Florence said, even in the snow and the mud.

"She was a beautiful little girly girl," Florence said. "She had everyone's heart."

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