Investigators have arrested a suspect in the homicide of Naomi Jones.
Robert Letroy Howard, 38, has been arrested for the 12-year-old's murder. Investigators first identified Howard during a neighborhood canvass, where they found Howard was in the area during the time Naomi went missing. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said Howard provided false information about his whereabouts during that time, saying he as in Alabama where he lives.
Howard was a frequent visitor to Aspen Village, where Naomi lived and was known to the child. Howard's girlfriend lives at Aspen Village.
"We have found our monster," ECSO Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said during Thursday's press conference.
Howard is a convicted felon, and served 15 years for two counts of sexual assault and rape. Morgan said Howard was seen on surveillance footage by the creek where Naomi's body was found, and from there he was put under surveillance. ECSO took him into custody soon after, Morgan said Thursday, and arrested him following an interview.
"Over the past week we haven't had many good days, Today is a good day," Simmons said.
Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said Howard's first court appearance will be tomorrow, during which his office will ask that no bond be given. They will review the evidence, but will likely file first degree murder charges and will possibly seek the death penalty.
Naomi went missing from her Aspen Village Apartments home on May 31. The last known contact she had with anyone was when she sent a Facebook message to a friend at 12:21 p.m., according to Morgan.
Morgan said he won't comment on the possible sexual nature of the attack, nor if the girl put up a fight before she was killed.
Naomi's autopsy showed she likely died within 24 and 36 hours of going missing, Morgan said, and her cause of death was asphyxiation. It's possible Naomi was targeted by a sexual predator she met on social media, Morgan said in a press conference Wednesday.
Investigators have reason to believe Naomi was transported from her neighborhood soon after she went missing, based on the fact that no witnesses in the area saw anything questionable.