Girl’s body found in Santa Cruz dumpster

The search for a missing 8-year-old girl in Santa Cruz ended in tragedy Monday evening when detectives found the body of a young female in a dumpster near the missing child’s residence, police said.

The body was found around 7:55 p.m. in a dumpster behind the Tannery Arts Center at 1030 River St., according to Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel, who called the discovery horrible and heartbreaking.

Vogel said Monday night during a press conference near the crime scene:

“Although we have not positively identified her yet we believe that she is probably Madyson Middleton. … The coroner’s office typically makes confirmation, but at this time we are confident that it’s Madyson Middleton.”

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of homicide and is being questioned by detectives at the Santa Cruz Police Department, according to Chief Kevin Vogel.

He also lives at the Tannery Arts Center and was present at approximately the same time as the body was discovered, Vogel said, but the sole suspect’s relationship to the victim is not currently known.

When reporters asked if the clothing on the victim matched the clothing Madyson was wearing when last seen Sunday evening, Vogel stated that it’s too soon to be certain:

“The way the body is situated in the dumpster where she was located, it’s difficult to tell what the clothing looks like from our vantage point right now.”

He added that investigators are in a “holding pattern” while they prepare to process the crime scene.

The Department of Justice is assisting in the investigation, according to Vogel, and police are planning to release more information sometime Tuesday morning.

Madyson “Maddy” Middleton was last seen near her home shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday, riding on her scooter and playing with friends before she went missing, according to police.

Detectives sealed off a residence at the Tannery Arts Center complex in Santa Cruz and are in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the apartment.