Calif. Police Identify Suspect in 'Gruesome' Slaying of 20-Year-Old Woman: 'You Can't Unsee This'

Mikilo Morgan Rawls, 37, was arrested in connection with the murder and sexual assault of Emma Roark

Emma Roark
Photo: Rancho Cordova Police Department

The man police say is responsible for the grisly killing of a young Rancho Cordova woman with autism, whose body was found along the American River after she went missing for four days, was arrested Friday.

Rancho Cordova Police Police Department said in a statement that Mikilo Morgan Rawls, 37, whom police described as a transient from the Sacramento County area, was apprehended and booked into Sacramento County Main Jail in connection with the "brutal" sexual assault and homicide of 20-year-old Emma Roark.

Rawls was charged with murder, rape and sodomy, according to Rancho Cordova PD. He is being held without bail, CBS13 reported.

Reported that Roark was kidnapped before her death, and her partially nude body was found hanging from a tree, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

"This type of violent crime tears at the fabric of community safety," said Chief Deputy Jim Barnes of Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, which made the 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. I also want to thank the Sacramento County District Attorney's Crime Lab for their collaboration on this investigation."

Mikilo Rawls
Rancho Cordova Police Department

Roark was reported missing on January 27, and police discovered her body in a secluded area at the American river access point, which NBC News reported was a homeless encampment. Rawls allegedly sold her cell phone to a man following the murder.

In a Friday press conference, Rancho Cordova Police Chief said Rawls was connected through DNA, which police already had in a statewide database.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Rawls had a criminal record stretching back to 2005 for burglary, resisting arrest and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

Rawls is expected to appear in court on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if he had legal representation.

"The forensic information that we have is DNA evidence and I'm confident that from the technology and everything we have with the crime lab and the DA's office, we know Mr. Rawls is responsible for this brutal crime," Barnes said at the press conference.

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