Santa Cruz Police

Madyson Middleton's body was found in a trash bin

July 28, 2015 08:05 PM

A 15-year-old boy lured 8-year-old Madyson "Maddy" Middleton into his parent’s apartment, where he murdered her and then tossed her body into a trash container at their apartment complex, a Santa Cruz, California, police chief said Tuesday.

“She knew him,” police chief Kevin Vogel said during a Tuesday morning press conference. “I think she had a reasonable amount of trust in him. We don’t think she was taken against her will.”

After the boy placed her body in the trash container, he tried to hide it, Vogel said.

“Her body was concealed in a recycle bin in a way that was not obvious or readily apparent,” Vogel said. “It is my belief she was killed even before we got the phone call Sunday night.”

Vogel said the boy was taken into custody soon after Middleton’s body was discovered at 7:55 p.m. Monday. Police became suspicious when they saw him standing near the trash container watching the search.

“We have evidence that ties our suspect directly to Maddy,” Vogel said, but he declined to say what the evidence was.

Middleton, a third-grade student, was last seen around 5 p.m. Sunday riding her white Razor scooter around her home at the Tannery Arts Center, an apartment complex and performance venue for low-income artists near the San Lorenzo River. Her mother reported her missing about an hour later. Hundreds of police officers, FBI agents, a helicopter crew, search dogs and volunteers were involved in the frantic search.

Then around 7:50 p.m. Monday night, a Santa Cruz police detective found Middleton’s body in the trash container. The boy was taken to police headquarters, where he was interviewed. Vogel said he was arrested Tuesday morning and transported to Santa Cruz County’s juvenile detention facility.

Vogel said the investigation is still ongoing.

“Our investigation is still in full swing,” he said. “This has just been absolutely devastating for me personally and for my staff. My staff was so hopeful that we were going to find her alive. And when the news came last night that she was not alive, it was horrific. It was horrible.”

Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell said his office is still deciding what charges to file against the boy.

UPDATE: The boy has been charged as an adult. Adrian Jerry Gonzalez of Santa Cruz faces one count of murder with the special circumstance that he kidnapped and sexually assaulted Maddy, Santa Cruz County Dist. Atty. Jeffrey Rosell announced Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is also accused of lying in wait.

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