PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say a 17-year-old boy arrested in the death and sexual assault of a 6-year-old Washington state girl will be charged as an adult.
The teen is due in Kitsap County Superior Court on Monday afternoon, sheriff’s office spokesman Scott Wilson said.
Authorities still haven’t released the teen’s name. He was arrested Saturday in the Bremerton-area mobile home park where Jenise Wright lived. She disappeared from the park a week earlier.
James Wright, Jenise’s father, told The Seattle Times the suspect was a close friend of the family and had visited their home many times.
“It’s devastating, and it’s going to be hard to forgive,” James Wright told newspaper.
Authorities say forensic evidence analyzed by the Washington state crime lab linked the teen to the crime. Earlier in the week, the sheriff’s office collected DNA cheek swabs from dozens of nearby residents.
A growing memorial at the entrance to the neighborhood includes silver balloons, stuffed animals, lit candles and flowers.
The FBI’s Specialty Search Dogs Unit discovered Jenise’s body on Thursday amid thick brush in a nearby wooded area. Volunteer canine search teams previously reported that their dogs showed interest in a particular area.
Jenise was last seen when she went to bed on the night of Aug. 2. Her parents waited a day before calling for help because they say the girl had wandered around the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on her own in the past.
Officials have said there were no signs of forced entry at Jenise’s home and no indication she was taken from her room.
Hundreds of people, including officers from 15 law enforcement agencies, searched for Jenise and went door to door at the mobile home park on the west side of Puget Sound, across from Seattle. They also pulled surveillance video from nearby businesses and checked in with sex offenders in the county.
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