Man Arrested in Rape and Murder of Emma Roark, California Autistic Woman Who Vanished While on Walk, Cops Say

Emma Roark
Rancho Cordova Police Department Facebook Page

Emma Roark was last seen alive on Jan. 27 when she left her home to go for a walk. Her family became concerned about her whereabouts six hours later and alerted police.

The body of Emma Roark, a 20-year-old autistic woman from Rancho Cordova, California, was found along the American River after being reported missing last month.

She was kidnapped before her death, and later her partially nude body was found hanging from a tree near a homeless encampment, according to People.

Now, police say they've apprehended and booked the man responsible for the gruesome death.

Mikilo Morgan Rawls, a 37-year-old homeless man from the Sacramento County region, was charged with murder, rape and sodomy after being arrested on Friday, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Rawls allegedly sold Roark's phone to another man following the murder, People reported.

"This type of violent crime tears at the fabric of community safety," Chief Deputy Jim Barnes from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office said after Rawls' arrest. 

"I am proud of the Sheriff's Office personnel, which includes the Rancho Cordova Police Department, who stood tall to protect our community and brought resolution to this brutal crime," he said. "I also want to thank the Sacramento County District Attorney's Crime Lab for their collaboration on this investigation."

Roark was last seen alive on Jan. 27 when she left her home to go for a walk, the Sacramento Bee reported. Her family became concerned about her whereabouts six hours later and alerted Rancho Cordova police.

Roark's body was discovered five days later.

Rawls has had a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2005, including arrests for burglary, resisting arrest, and being a felon in possession of ammunition, according to the Sacramento Bee. His DNA, which was allegedly found at the scene where Roark was discovered, was already in the statewide database, according to authorities.

"You can't unsee this. This is as bad as it gets," Barnes said about the crime. "Now, imagine the family has to deal with this and the ripple effect that comes with that."

"This type of evil will not define the city of Rancho Cordova," Rancho Cordova Police Chief Brandon Luke said. "Its citizens, the city government, its leaders, and the Rancho Cordova Police Department stand committed in providing a safe environment for all our residents."

The American River Parkway is a beautiful outdoor recreation area but is littered with a transient population, police said, noting residents visiting the area should be vigilant while doing so, according to the Sacramento Bee. 

Rawls will appear in court on May 20.

Rancho Cordona detectives ask that anyone with information relating to Roark's killing to contact them at (916) 362-5115 or anonymously on their website

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