Neighbor of slain Ohio girl, 9, to appear in court

AMANDA LEE MYERS Associated Press Published:

An Ohio man arrested in the killing of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found in a trash bin just five hours after she was reported missing was set for his first court appearance.

Jerrod Metsker, 24, was scheduled to appear Monday morning in the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas on an aggravated murder charge in the death of Reann Murphy, who authorities said was his neighbor.

It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

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.

Metsker's arrest came about 12 hours after deputies found Reann's body in a trash bin near her home at a mobile home park in Smithville, about 30 miles southwest of Akron.

The girl was last seen Saturday night playing outdoors at the park. Officers, firefighters and neighbors joined in the search for her, going door to door and combing area properties. Her body was found around 1:35 a.m. Sunday, about five hours after she was reported missing.

Hutchinson wouldn't say how Reann was killed or offer a motive. He 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.

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."

He added that he wanted the "worst for the guy" who killed his daughter and declined to comment further.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz said at the news conference. "It's a horrific incident to take place at any time, especially during the holidays."

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.


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