A 15-year-old has been charged as an adult in the death of 8-year-old Madyson “Maddy” Middleton in Santa Cruz earlier this week, Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeff Rosell said Wednesday.
Adrian Jerry Gonzalez was charged with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, Rosell said during a news conference outside the Santa Cruz County Courthouse this morning.
The murder charge includes special circumstances involving sexual assault, kidnapping and lying in wait, Rosell said.
Gonzalez is being held at the Santa Cruz juvenile detention center and scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, Rosell said.
The death penalty is not applicable to juveniles and the teen is facing life in prison if convicted on the charges, according to Rosell.
Gonzalez and Maddy were acquaintances and neighbors who lived at a housing complex at the Tannery Arts Center campus at 1030 River St., police Chief Kevin Vogel said.
Maddy was reported missing at 6:08 p.m. Sunday after she was seen an hour earlier playing with friends and riding her Razor scooter around the complex, Vogel said.
An extensive search for the girl lasted into the night and for most of Monday with the help of the FBI, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies, Vogel said.
At 7:55 p.m. Monday, a Santa Cruz police detective found Maddy’s body concealed in a recycling bin in a first-floor garage at the complex, according to Vogel.
Soon after the discovery, Gonzalez was found nearby, taken in by police for questioning and arrested on suspicion of homicide, Vogel said.
The boy allegedly lured Maddy into his unit, where investigators suspect he was alone when he killed her, then placed her body in the recycling bin, the chief said.
Gonzalez allegedly killed the girl before she was reported missing Sunday, according to Vogel.
It appears Maddy willingly accompanied the suspect to his unit and had a reasonable amount of trust in him, Vogel said.
Maddy was set to enter fourth grade next month at DeLaveaga Elementary School, Santa Cruz City Schools district superintendent Kris Munro said in a statement:
“We are stunned and deeply saddened in the wake of the tragic news about Maddy Middleton. … Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and loved ones, many of whom are members of our school community as well as our larger community.”
The district is offering counseling services today and Thursday at the school for students, families and staff, Munro said. The times for the counseling services and resources to cope with Maddy’s passing are posted on the district’s website at http://www.sccs.santacruz.k12.ca.us.