Hundreds say goodbye to slain Missouri 3-year-old

SENATH, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners said goodbye Saturday to a 3-year-old southeast Missouri girl whose body was found on the banks of a drainage ditch 10 days after she disappeared.

Breeann Rodriguez was last seen Aug. 6 riding her pink bicycle with training wheels near her home. Her body was found Tuesday a few miles south of Senath, a town of 1,600 residents near the Arkansas border. Investigators said a neighbor confessed to killing the girl after finding her on the ladder of his above-ground backyard swimming pool.

A standing-room-only crowd filled Senath Church of Christ on Saturday during the child's funeral, then mourners escorted her family as they walked from the church to the nearby Senath Cemetery, The Daily Dunklin Democrat reported (http://bit.ly/nM1QuJ).

Shawn Morgan, 43, was arrested three days before Breeann's body was found. Morgan is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence. He is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 30.

Morgan was arrested Aug. 13, three days before Breeann's body was found. According to a probable cause statement, Morgan told Bootheel Drug Task Force agent Tim Trowbridge that he suffocated the girl with a white plastic trash bag.

Morgan told the agent that he put the girl's body in the same trash bag he used to kill her and drove to a floodway — a low-lying undeveloped area along a state road — and threw the bag over a railing into a ditch, according to the probable cause statement.

He also told Trowbridge that he went home and dismantled the girl's bike, which he dumped in the same area where he left her body. He did not say why he killed the child, according to the statement.

Court records obtained by The Associated Press show Morgan pleaded no contest in 2004 to making a terroristic threat after threatening to blow up a factory where he worked. He served one year on probation and was fined $1,000.

Morgan, a father of three, could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder charge.

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