A 15-year-old boy lured an 8-year-old girl into his apartment and killed her before hiding her body in a recycling bin at the housing complex for artists where they lived, authorities said Tuesday.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters that Madyson Middleton went willingly into the apartment and was probably dead even before she was reported missing Sunday evening.The boy, who police say knew the girl as a neighborhood acquaintance, was arrested on suspicion of murder, Vogel said.
The police chief would not discuss a motive and declined to give details on the suspect’s background or the manner in which the girl was slain.
Madyson’s disappearance and death has shaken the unique artists’ community called Tannery Arts Center on the outskirts of this beach town. The center is a public-private nonprofit project that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families, a cafe and dance and art studios.
The suspect and his alleged victim knew each other, he said.
“We lost not one kid, but two kids over the weekend, and both parents are in an absolute state of shock,” said Scudder, who described the suspect as admired, well-liked and well-rounded.
Federal and local law enforcement searched the area surrounding the complex Sunday night and throughout Monday before finding the girl’s body that night.
The suspect, whose name is not being released because he is a juvenile, was nearby when the body was discovered, and officers found evidence in the apartment that links him to the slaying, the police chief said.
Prosecutors are considering bringing charges against the boy as an adult, Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said.
As he was taken into custody, his mother rushed at police officers in floods of tears, asking why her son was being taken away in handcuffs.
It stunned neighbors who insisted the boy had a good reputation in the community
On Tuesday morning, the trash-collection area where Madyson’s body was found remained roped off. Visitors stopped at a walkway memorial to pay respects with candles, bouquets of flowers and stuffed animals.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel revealed details at a Tuesday press conference.
Young Madyson ‘was lured to the suspect’s apartment willingly.’
‘Additionally, we’ve determined that Maddy was murdered inside of the suspect’s apartment,’ he told reporters.
‘She was then carried downstairs to the recycle bin, where she was concealed.’
The suspect acted alone ‘and not in concert with anyone else.’
Her body was found at 7:55pm on Monday.
“My staff was so hopeful we were going to find her alive. And when the news came last night that she was not alive,” Vogel said, “it was horrible.”
Vogel added that the girl’s body was ‘concealed in a way that wasn’t obvious or readily apparent.’
The 15-year-old boy who was at the complex while crews searched for Middleton and is believed to have helped in the search, was arrested around the same time the girl’s body was found, according to Vogel.
Hundreds of volunteers had searched surrounding areas to look for Madyson, who was last seen Sunday afternoon. She had been seen riding her new Razor scooter in the courtyard, but around 5 p.m., her mother realized she was gone.
Police twice conducted a door-to-door search of the entire apartment complex, as well as a homeless shelter across the street. Vogel said he did not know if the boy’s apartment was immediately searched, but they believe the girl was killed before they got the call.
Officers discovered the body on a second, more thorough search of the complex, Vogel said.