Police say Ga. girl’s killing ‘very calculated’

CANTON, Ga. (AP) — Even residents who didn’t know Jorelys Rivera saw the 7-year-old girl smiling and playing in the north Georgia apartment complex where she lived with her mother and siblings.

Investigators said they believe one of those who noticed the girl — someone who either lived in the modern, sprawling complex north of Atlanta or had regular access to the apartments — may be her killer. Rivera was abducted near a playground at the complex, taken to a vacant apartment, and sexually assaulted before she was stabbed and beaten to death and her body placed in a trash bin, authorities said Tuesday.

“This was a very calculated and planned crime,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said.

Police still have no suspects in the case.

Keenan on Tuesday released autopsy results and new details in the killing of Rivera of Canton, who was last seen Friday evening. The autopsy showed the girl died of blunt force trauma 60 to 90 minutes after she disappeared, though police did not give a time of death.

He said evidence collected from the child’s body and the vacant apartment are being tested. Investigators hope to have preliminary DNA results later Tuesday.

Rivera’s family lives in a community with a swimming pool, club house and two playgrounds. The complex is a series of three-story apartment buildings with meticulous landscaping, surrounded by an idyllic backdrop of trees and hills.

On Monday, many apartments were decked out in Christmas lights as neighbors watched GBI agents search the grounds for more clues in the child’s killing. Neighbors repeatedly said parents had felt safe letting their children roam freely in the complex because it’s surrounded by a fence and was a quiet place to live.

Keenan said investigators have received numerous tips from the public and said valuable evidence has come from apartment complex residents.

A prayer vigil was held late Monday at the playground, where people left flowers, balloons and stuffed animals at a makeshift memorial.

A $15,000 reward has been issued for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the girl’s killer.

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