MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on an arrest in the case of a missing Florida girl whose body was found in a creek (all times local):
An ex-convict from Alabama is accused of kidnapping, killing and disposing of the body of a 12-year-old Florida girl.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan announced the arrest of 38-year-old Robert Letroy Howard of East Brewton, Alabama, during a news conference on Thursday morning.
Morgan says investigators zeroed in on Howard during a canvass of the neighborhood where Naomi Jones lived near Pensacola. Morgan says Howard “frequented” the Aspen Village apartment of his girlfriend, which is “very near” the Jones family’s apartment.
The sheriff says Howard gave “false information” that he was in Alabama when the girl went missing.
He was convicted in 1999 on two counts of sexual assault and rape in Alabama and served 15 years in prison.
It is not known whether Howard has an attorney. He was arrested Thursday morning.
He’s being held on a $600,000 bond.
Preliminary autopsy results indicate a 12-year-old girl found in a Florida creek likely was suffocated.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said during a news conference Wednesday that Naomi Jones probably was killed in the first 24 to 36 hours after she was last seen on May 31 and said that the child may have been targeted by a sexual predator she had previously interacted with on social media.
He added that Naomi was active on social media, but says authorities don’t yet have a direct link to a suspect.
Morgan says investigators believe she was “picked up almost immediately when she left the house” and taken to another location. Fisherman found her body Monday several miles from her home.
Investigators are partnering with the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
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