Man charged with murdering abducted N. Georgia girl

CANTON, Ga. (AP) — A 20-year-old maintenance worker was arrested in the beating death of a 7-year-old north Georgia girl who was abducted and killed at an apartment complex and her body left in a trash bin, authorities said Wednesday.

Ryan Brunn, who lived and worked at the apartment complex, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon on a murder warrant, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan.

Jorelys Rivera was last seen Friday evening leaving the playground to walk back home to get drinks for her friends. Authorities said they believe she was taken to an empty apartment in the complex, where she was sexually assaulted, stabbed and beaten to death.

Keenan said Brunn, who has no known criminal record, had keys to both the empty apartment and the trash compactor bin where Rivera’s body was placed.

“We are confident that Brunn is the killer and that is why he is in custody,” Keenan said, declining to detail what evidence investigators have against him.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Associated Press, Brunn was arrested on suspicion of murder and making false statements to authorities. The arrest warrant says, “the accused did unlawfully and with malice aforethought cause the death of Jorelys Rivera by hitting her on the head with a blunt object.” No other details are contained in the document, which was filed Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear whether Brunn had an attorney. He was being held at the Cherokee County jail. Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Brunn’s initial appearance in Superior Court was set for Thursday.

Brunn, wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and jeans, was arrested at the apartment complex and taken in handcuffs to a sheriff’s patrol car surrounded by a handful of armed law enforcement officers. Video aired by WSB-TV shows Brunn keeping his head down and ignoring comments shouted by an observer.

Keenan said investigators focused on Brunn after receiving information from the public. Brunn had been under police surveillance since Tuesday night. Keenan said the investigation will continue for several months.

“This is a mammoth case,” Keenan told reporters at a news conference in Canton. “We believe that this horrendous crime was planned and calculated, and we’ve recovered a lot of evidence.”

Blue Ridge District Attorney Garry Moss said he had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty.

On Wednesday, Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance thanked investigators and volunteers who searched for the slain child. About 65 local, state and federal investigators worked the case and several hundred interviews were conducted, authorities said.

“Our goal was to make an arrest for what has happened to this sweet, innocent little girl,” Lance said.

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