December 16, 2013

Neighbor of slain Ohio girl, 9, held without bond

The girl was last seen Saturday night playing outdoors near her home. Her body was found about five hours after she was reported missing.

By John Coyne
The Associated Press

WOOSTER, Ohio – An Ohio man who authorities believe killed a 9-year-old neighbor and dumped her body in a trash bin was ordered held without bond Monday pending another hearing next week.

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Wayne County sheriff’s deputies secure the scene while investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Investigation search a mobile home in Wayne County’s Green Township on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Jerrod Metsker, 24, was arrested at his home on a murder charge about 12 hours after deputies found the body of Reann Murphy near her home at a mobile park in Smithville, about 30 miles southwest of Akron, Sheriff Travis Hutchinson said. Reann was last seen Saturday night playing outdoors at the park. Officers, firefighters and neighbors joined in the search for Reann, going door-to-door and combing area properties. Hutchinson wouldn’t say how Reann was killed or offer a motive. He described Metsker as a family friend and neighbor.

The Associated Press

Jerrod Metsker, 24, appeared for an arraignment before a Wayne County municipal court judge via video from jail. The county public defender was appointed to represent him on charges that he killed Reann Murphy, whose family lives across from him in a trailer park in Smithville, about 30 miles southwest of Akron.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 23. County prosecutor Daniel Lutz said the case could go to a grand jury on Friday if the evidence is processed in time.

Metsker was arrested Sunday, about 12 hours after deputies found Reann’s body in a trash bin near her home.

The girl was last seen Saturday night playing outdoors at the park. Her body was found about five hours after she was reported missing. Officers, firefighters and neighbors joined in the search for her, going door to door and combing area properties. Her body was found early Sunday.

Authorities did not offer a possible motive Monday for her killing. Lutz said a coroner will determine the cause of death but that the girl was not shot or stabbed.

Metsker was arrested at his home after he ignored knocks on his front door and deputies obtained a key from a family member, Wayne County Sheriff Travis Hutchinson said Sunday at a news conference.

Hutchinson described Metsker as a family friend and neighbor.

People in the little girl’s community held a vigil Sunday night to remember her.

Her father, Richard Murphy, tried to speak but broke down crying, according to WEWS-TV. “She’s the best thing that ever happened to me ... this is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Murphy said.

Murphy released some balloons into the air during vigil in remembrance of his daughter.

“She saved my life,” Murphy said. “I wish I could trader her places.”

A cousin, Paula Watts, said she “can’t believe somebody would do this to her. I can’t believe anyone would do it to any child, but she’s amazing, the most friendliest little girl you ever met.”

The Daily Record in Wooster reported that Richard Murphy said of his daughter: “All she did was love people.”

Marilyn Briggs, who lives in a house next to the mobile home park where Reann lived, said she didn’t know the little girl or her family but was shaken by the killing.

“It sickens me and I’m so sad for the family, and this close to Christmas,” Briggs said. “It’s just awful. You never think something like that is going to happen in your area.”

Briggs described the park as a bit run-down but generally safe. She said she wasn’t aware of any serious crimes in the area in the eight years she’s lived there.

Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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