DETROIT (WWJ) – Homicide by asphyxia is listed as the cause of death of a girl whose body was found in an abandoned home in Detroit. A Wayne County Medical Examiner’s report lists the girl as approximately 5-to-7 years old, and indicates she died before her body was badly burned in an abandoned house on Waverly Street.

Investigators say they think that west-side house fire was set. Police questioned a man who lives in the neighborhood in connection with the fire. The report doesn’t detail the asphyxia, which is a lack of oxygen to the body and can be caused by choking, strangulation or smothering, for example.

A spokesman for the Medicam Examiner’s office says State Police have been called in to help with DNA testing to identify the girl.

Meantime, Detroit Police are asking for help finding a 5-year-old girl they think was abducted from a home on Burlingame, not far from the Waverly Street house. Mariha Smith was last seen by her mother at about 3 a.m. Sunday on the floor of her sister’s home. Konesha  Smith said her oldest daughter was sleeping with her two younger brothers and sister in front of a fan in a front window. Smith says she slept on a nearby couch. When she woke at 10 a.m. Sunday, Smith said, she assumed her daughter was watching TV with the other kids, but about noon she noticed her daughter was missing.

Mariha Smith is described by police as black, 3-feet-5 inches tall, weighing 40 pounds, with black eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt with pink flowers on it, and jeans.

Detroit Police have not said whether they think the two cases may be linked, although Smith said is not convinced the girl found dead in the house is her daughter.

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