SMITHVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A 9-year-old Ohio girl last seen playing in the mobile home park where she lived was found dead in a nearby trash bin after a frantic search, and police on Sunday arrested a neighbor they’ve described as a family friend in the killing.
Jerrod Metsker, 24, was arrested at his home on a murder charge about 12 hours after deputies found the body of Reann Murphy near her home in Smithville, about 30 miles southwest of Akron, Wayne County Sheriff Travis Hutchinson said at a news conference.
It was not immediately clear whether Metsker had an attorney. His first court appearance is scheduled Monday morning.
Reann was last seen Saturday night playing outside in a shared area at the mobile home park. She was reported missing after 8 p.m. and officers, firefighters and neighbors joined in the search for Reann, going door-to-door and combing area properties. Her body was found around 1:35 a.m. Sunday, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson wouldn’t say how Reann was killed or offer a motive.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz said at the news conference. “It’s a horrific incident to take place at any time, especially during the holidays.”
Metsker was arrested at his home after he ignored knocks on his front door and deputies obtained a key from a family member, Hutchinson said.
“All she did was love people,” Reann’s father, Richard Murphy, told The Daily Record in Wooster. He said that he wanted the “worst for the guy” who killed his daughter and declined to comment further.
Marilyn Briggs, who lives in a house next to the mobile home park, said she didn’t know the little girl or her family but was shaken by the killing.
“It sickens me and I’m so sad for the family, and this close to Christmas,” Briggs said. “It’s just awful. You never think something like that is going to happen in your area.”
Briggs described the park as a bit run-down but generally safe and added that she wasn’t aware of any serious crimes in the area in the eight years she’s lived there.