Missing Santa Cruz girl found dead; teen suspect in custody - Women's Holsters

Missing Santa Cruz girl found dead; teen suspect in custody

Madyson Middleton

SANTA CRUZ, CA (July 27, 2016) -- After more than 24 hours of searching for a missing 8-year-old girl in Santa Cruz, Madyson "Maddy" Middleton was found dead in a dumpster behind the Tannery Arts Center just before 8 p.m., Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said late Monday.

"We have arrested and taken into custody a 15-year-old male who was on the property at the time of the discovery," Vogel said.

That teenager, who lives at the Tannery, is being detained and questioned in relation to the homicide of Maddy, Vogel said. It was unknown if the teenager knew Maddy.

Vogel said they do not believe there are any witnesses to the crime, but there are witnesses who saw the suspect on the property Sunday.

It is unclear how the body or the suspect came to light, but residents said the teen is a resident at the Tannery and that his mother screamed in agony when he was arrested. Police were interviewing the teen late Monday.

The arrest ended what began on a hot Sunday afternoon, one that started as any other for Maddy, as she rode on her white Razer Scooter around her home at the Tannery Arts Center.

Surveillance video shows the last image of Madyson Middleton captured at 5:05 p.m. Sunday at the Tannery Arts Center. (Santa Cruz Police -- Contributed)
Surveillance video shows the last image of Madyson Middleton
captured at 5:05 p.m.Sunday at the Tannery Arts Center.
(Santa Cruz Police -- Contributed)
   

Twenty-four hours later, the massive search included at least 200 residents, more than a dozen FBI agents, Santa Cruz police, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Team, a helicopter crew, three K-9 units, an amateur drone camera and hundreds of paper fliers and social media posts.

She was waiting for a friend to finish a board game so they could play together, and rode the scooter under her friend's window, her mother said. At 5:07 p.m. a surveillance video shows Maddy riding her scooter near a cluster of metal mailboxes at the base of a red, four-story apartment building at the Tannery.

Then she disappeared.

"I thought she was in the courtyard. I thought she was in the bathroom, checked the art bar, then I started to going to every friend's house," said Laura Jordan, Maddy's 42-year-old mother. Jordan said she got more and more worried. "Maybe she got bored waiting for her play date, maybe she found another friend. But we had no luck."

Jordan described her daughter as an active, vocal child who would have screamed if a stranger tried to abduct her.

"She's never gone into the woods, and she knows she's not supposed to go down to the creek by herself," said Jordan. "People asked if she hides, and she doesn't do that.”

The Tannery, which is an art and work space for about 350 people at 1030 River St., backs up against a paved trail and a wooded area with trails to the San Lorenzo River. Residents said they look out for each other and watch each other's children. Yet Jordan said she fears people who camp illegally and use drugs by the river.

"She (Madyson) knows she's not to ride around the backs of the buildings because it's heroin highway," said Jordan.

Despite media attention Monday from San Francisco Bay Area TV stations to Good Morning America, no good leads in the case were generated and there were no credible sightings for the first 24 hours, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said Monday afternoon.

Chief Vogel said that while they had not positively identified the body found Monday, authorities believed it was Madyson.

Santa Cruz police have said that Madyson's parents and family have been cooperative with authorities during the search.

Madyson's primary residence was at the Tannery with her mother. Madyson's father, Michel Middleton, shares custody as well and was at the Tannery helping with the search.

Jordan said she has lived at the Tannery for about six years.

A statewide amber alert Amber Alert was not issued because authorities said it did not meet the criteria and there was no suspect information.

 

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