Less than a day after 8-year-old Madyson “Maddy” Middleton disappeared from her mother’s apartment complex in Santa Cruz, California, her body was found in the recycling bin outside the complex.
Her 15-year-old neighbor has since been accused of killing and sexually assaulting her, KTLA reported.
The teen, who is not being named because he is a minor, allegedly lured Maddy up to his family’s apartment, tied her up and then proceeded to beat and rape her before strangling her.
According to a news release from the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, the teen will be prosecuted on several charges, including murder, forcible rape, great bodily injury and kidnapping by lying in wait.
“We’re confident in the charges we filed and that’s what justice demands,” Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell told the San Jose Mercury News. Though the teen is being charged as an adult, he is not eligible for the death penalty due to his age.
Santa Cruz Police Department Chief Kevin Vogel said during a news conference that he believed Maddy went to the apartment willingly. “She knew him. She was 8 years old. I think she had a reasonable amount of trust in him,” he said. “We don’t believe she was taken there against her will.”
He added: “It’s my belief that she was killed before we even got the phone call on Sunday night.”
Experts who reviewed the teen’s social media accounts, including his Instagram, which included several instances of dark commentary, expressed concern about his mental state.
"It definitely sounds like this guy was dealing with depression and thinking about suicide," clinical psychologist Oscar Cervantes told the San Jose Mercury News. "It seems like this guy knew something was really wrong with him.”