Police confirm the body found near a missing Arizona girl's home is that of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella. Police have arrested a family friend for kidnapping and first degree murder.

292 85 LINKEDIN 35 COMMENTMORE

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — Police arrested a 26-year-old man on allegations tied to the disappearance and murder of an 8-year-old Arizona girl hours after serving a search warrant at the girl's home, according to police.

Investigators arrested Justin James Rector on first-degree murder and kidnapping counts, police announced Thursday.

Police on Wednesday found a body in a shallow grave near the home of missing 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella, according to a police spokeswoman, and investigators confirmed Thursday that the body was that of the little girl.

Investigators first learned of Rector's potential role in Isabella's disappearance and murder from her 10-year-old sister, according to court documents. He was described as the boyfriend of the mother.

The 10-year-old, whose name is redacted throughout the report, told investigators that she and Isabella were at their mother's home playing hide-and-seek with Rector on Monday. The older girl said she went to the restroom at some point and when she came out, Rector and Isabella were gone, according to court records.

The girls' mother returned home with friends and contacted police early Tuesday morning after she could not find Isabella, according to court documents.

BOYFRIEND STOPPED AT WALMART

Investigators began looking for Rector that morning and found him near a highway in Bullhead City at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, according to court records. Police believe Rector stole a pair of shoes and other clothes from the Walmart, and Rector admitted to hiding his old belongings in the store, according to a police report.

Rector told investigators that he left Isabella's mother's home and went to a friend's house before walking to the Walmart, but Rector's friends told detectives that he never came to the home or tried to get in touch with them, according to court records.

Police arrested Rector Tuesday evening on suspicion of shoplifting, according to court documents.

When investigators found Isabella's body in a shallow grave on Wednesday, they also found shoe prints near the crime scene that matched the footwear Rector left at the Walmart, according to court records. The shoes were unique because they had duct tape covering a hole in one of the shoes, investigators said.

A witness also told detectives that someone matching Rector's description was seen leaving the crime scene before he arrived at the Walmart, according to police reports.

Rector denied any involvement in Isabella's murder and asked for an attorney as investigators pressed him for details, according to court records.

Rector was arrested and booked and has a preliminary hearing scheduled at 9 a.m. on Sept. 12.

About 40,000 people live in Bullhead City, which is on the Arizona-Nevada border some 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The Associated Press contributed to the report

More national news from USA TODAY:


292 85 LINKEDIN 35 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1rOcNGn