Authorities confirm body is that of missing 8-year-old girl

SANTA CRUZ, Calif (KTVU-AP) -- A 15-year-old boy was arrested Monday night after evidence linked him to the murder of an 8-year-old girl whose body was found in a recycling bin in a Santa Cruz artist community where the two of them lived, according to Santa Cruz police chief Kevin Vogel.

Vogel confirmed that the body was that of Madyson Middleton, who was last seen around 5:05 p.m. riding her razor scooter in front of the community apartments on Sunday evening.

He said evidence was discovered linking the teen -- who was an acquaintance of Madyson's -- to the murder and that the slaying had occurred inside the teen's apartment.

"She was killed upstairs," he told reporters. "It was prior to us receiving a call on Sunday evening."

Vogel said the teen lured the young girl to the apartment.

"They were alone in the apartment," he said. "He is an acquaintance of Mady's...She willingly accompanied him up to the apartment."

Vogel believes that the murder took place in less than an hour after she was last seen alive. 

"When we found Mady, he was in close proximity to the recycling bin... That's when we took him into custody," Vogel said.

The 15-year-old boy was interviewed by police overnight before he was arrested on suspicion of homicide and taken to the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Detention facility.

Madyson's parents met with investigators Sunday night and again Monday at police headquarters before speaking with reporters outside.

"I can't explain how difficult this is," the girl's mother, Laura Jordan, said earlier Monday.

Jordan said she's looked at surveillance video from their housing complex that showed Madyson's last minutes before she disappeared. Police have said she was last seen on video surveillance at 5:05 p.m.

Jordan walked the edges of the courtyard, and police twice conducted a door-to-door search of the entire complex, as well as a homeless resource center and shelter across the street.

Beyond the 8-acre property, searchers from throughout the state looked in boats, helicopters, on foot and bike, with dogs and cameras.

Authorities didn't send volunteers onto adjacent hiking and biking trails for fear of disturbing potential evidence, but hundreds of volunteers showed up and looked for her in neighborhoods and streets.

Authorities used dogs to search nearby woods and parks and the San Lorenzo River levee. Helicopters searched the forest and the coastline, and the U.S. Coast Guard scoured the ocean 2 miles from where she was last seen.

The 4-foot-tall, 50-pound child has long brown hair, which was pulled to the side in a braid, and dark eyes. She was wearing a purple dress, black leggings, black flip-flops and a black helmet.

She lived with her mother at the Tannery Arts Center, a public-private nonprofit project that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families, a café, and dance and art studios.

The property, a former leather tannery, is managed by The John Stewart Company. John Stewart, the company's chairman, said they turned the surveillance footage over to authorities Sunday night.