The desperate search for a missing 8-year-old California girl came to a tragic conclusion with the discovery of a body in a trash bin and the arrest of a teenage boy, authorities in Santa Cruz said.
A body believed to be Madyson “Maddy” Middleton was found behind the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz late Monday, Police Chief Kevin Vogel said late Monday. The child vanished around 5 p.m. Sunday while riding her scooter outside the artist community. Middleton lived with her mother, Laura Jordan, 42, in an affordable-housing unit offered to artists at the center.
“While the Coroner’s Office will be responsible to confirm the identity, we are absolutely heartbroken to announce that the body appears to be that of 8-year-old Madyson Middleton,” the Santa Cruz Police Department said in a statement.
The suspect lives in the same complex as the victim, and residents told the San Jose Mercury News that the teen’s mother screamed in agony when her son was arrested.
Following her disappearance, police conducted door-to-door searches of the complex and nearby communities. Authorities searched in woodland and park areas nearby, with helicopters, bicycle patrols, dogs and even boats aided the search. Middleton’s father, Michael, spent much of Monday searching the streets with friends.
“Our hearts our broken and our deepest sympathy to the family of Madyson Middleton,” the California Highway Patrol’s Santa Cruz office tweeted. “We are grieving with the entire Santa Cruz community.”
The Mercury News quoted Jordan as saying her daughter was waiting for a friend to finish a board game so they could play together, and rode her scooter under her friend’s window. At 5:07 p.m., surveillance video shows Maddy riding near a cluster of metal mailboxes at the Tannery. It was the last time she was seen alive.
“I thought she was in the courtyard,” Jordan said. “I thought she was in the bathroom, checked the art bar, then I started to going to every friend’s house. Maybe she got bored waiting for her play date, maybe she found another friend. But we had no luck.”
Earlier Monday, officials said they were not calling the case a kidnapping. An Amber alert was not issued for the child because the case did not meet the criteria. Instead, an endangered missing person alert was issued.
Contributing: John Bacon
SOURCE: Jessica Estepa