SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Prosecutors have charged a 15-year-old boy as an adult in the murder of an 8-year-old girl in an artists complex in a California beach town.
Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said Wednesday the teen is facing a charge of murder with special circumstances including kidnapping and sex offense.
Madyson Middleton went missing Sunday after playing in a courtyard at the complex, that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families, where she lived with her mother.
Police say the teen, who also lived in the complex, lured her into his family’s apartment unit and killed her before dumping her body in a recycling bin and attempting to conceal it.
Rosell named the suspect as Adrian Jerry Gonzalez. The boy will remain in juvenile custody, Rosell said. If he’s convicted, he’ll face life in prison.
The girl’s body was found in the recycle bin Monday during a second and “more thorough” search of the apartment complex, Santa Cruz police chief Kevin Vogel said Tuesday.
Vogel said the teen boy was taken into custody “almost immediately” because he was in the same area where the girl’s body was found, possibly watching teams search. The teen’s apartment is upstairs from the bin where the girl’s body was found, Vogel said, and investigators believe the body was carried there.
The boy was questioned extensively and later arrested on suspicion of homicide.
Vogel said investigators have evidence to tie the teen to the murder, but they did not disclose what the evidence was. They believe he acted alone. They say they believe the child was killed shortly before police received a call reporting her missing just after 6 p.m. Sunday, and was placed in the recycle bin shortly thereafter.
Vogel wouldn’t say how the girl was killed.
Vogel said that murder has been a “horrific, horrific experience for the family as well as for our entire community.”
“My staff was so hopeful we were going to find her alive,” Vogel said. “When news came last night that she was not alive, it was horrible.”