A surveillance footage image reveals the last time an eight-year-old girl was seen alive before her teenage neighbor allegedly lured her to her death.
The body of Madyson Middleton, known as Maddy, was found stashed in a dumpster in Santa Cruz, California on Monday.
On Wednesday night, her killer was named as Adrian Jerry Gonzalez. Although he is just 15, he is being charged as an adult.
Footage taken at 5.05pm on Sunday - just minutes before Maddy disappeared - shows her riding a scooter that she had been given that day.
Police say Gonzalez later lured her to his apartment.
"Maddy was an acquaintance to the suspect," said Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel. “She was lured to the suspect's apartment. She was not taken there against her will. She was eight years old and had a reasonable amount of trust in him.”
She was allegedly tied up, raped and strangled, according to the suspect's charging documents. Her body was carried downstairs and hidden in the recycling bin.
When she failed to return to her home in the same apartment block, the community – an artists’ colony made up of painters, sculptors and musicians – launched a massive search.
But cops believe the little girl was killed before the search even began.
When they found her body on Monday evening, the teenager who allegedly killed her was standing beside the recycling bin, police said.
Gonzalez, who had joined the search to find her, was arrested for her murder.
He remains in custody and is expected to be arraigned in Santa Cruz on Thursday.
Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said that in his two decades in Santa Cruz, he has never seen a 15-year-old charged with murder, The Associated Press reported.
If convicted, the boy could go to prison for the rest of his life.
A candlelit vigil was held in Maddiy’s memory and a site near where her body was found has been turned into a shrine by her grieving neighbors.
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