Missing Santa Cruz girl was raped and strangled, sources say

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SANTA CRUZ (KRON) — Sources say that the 8-year-old girl who vanished from her Santa Cruz apartment complex Sunday night was raped and strangled before her body was found inside a recycling bin.

Madyson Middleton’s body was discovered inside of a dumpster at the Tannery Arts Center by one of the department’s detectives Monday night. Police are not sure how long the body was inside the dumpster.

“At approximately 7:55 p.m., and this is extraordinarily heartbreaking news that I’m about to give to you, our detectives discovered the body of a young female inside of a dumpster at the complex located behind me,” said Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel on Monday night.

Initial reports of Middleton’s disappearance were received at 6:08 p.m. Sunday night, police said. Surveillance video captured footage of the girl riding her scooter around the complex at about 5:05 p.m.

“It’s my belief that she was killed before we got the phone call Sunday night,” said Vogel.

Upon receiving the call, police and detectives scoured the complex and surrounding areas.

On Monday night, a police detective conducted a secondary search of the complex and looked inside a dumpster located inside an enclosed ground level garage.

A 15-year-old boy who was standing nearby the dumpster while crews searched for Middleton, was arrested around the same time the girl’s body was found, according to Vogel, and he thought that the boy may have been watching investigators look through the bin.

The suspect and Middleton were neighbors at the Tannery Arts complex.

According to police, the girl was lured into the teen’s apartment on Sunday night. Investigators found evidence that the girl was murdered inside the upstairs apartment before her body was carried down into the first floor garage then placed into a recycling bin.

Police say the 15-year-old went to great lengths to hide her body. Police also said she went with the teen because she trusted him.

The unidentified suspect is being held at the Santa Cruz Police Department as part of a homicide investigation.

The District Attorney’s office is currently in the process of figuring out what charges to file, but the suspect can be charged as an adult.

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