Maddy Middleton murder: Teen suspect charged as adult
02/02/2016 2:21 pm PST
There is new information in the Santa Cruz, Calif. murder of 8-year-old Madyson "Maddy" Middleton, and the teen suspect that is now in custody.
Maddy Middleton, 8, went missing on July 26, 2015. The frantic search to find her lasts just over 24 hours before turning tragic. She was found beaten, stabbed, sexually assaulted and strangled.
Maddy was attacked in an apartment not far from her own home in an artists' colony in Santa Cruz. Her body was found strategically hidden inside a recycling bin.
The tragedy stunned the close-knit community. And the people in this peaceful place along the California coast walked in fear. Was there a killer living among them?
One 15-year-old neighbor boy seemed especially interested in the search for Maddy. Adrian Gonzalez was obsessed with finding out as much as he could about the investigation.
A neighbor, talking to reporters, says Gonzalez questioned him. Reportedly, Gonzalez was watching the search while spinning his yo-yo. As soon as Maddy's body was found, he tried to run away.
That inquisitive and anxious 15-year-old boy next door, a quiet piano player, was arrested for Maddy's brutal murder.
Before the murder, according to affiliate KRON, Adrian Gonzalez told friends he was suicidal and he reportedly talked about killing to get a reaction. Another clue that he was on the path to a violent outburst, according to the San Jose Mercury News, was his alleged abuse of his own dog years earlier.
Gonzalez did seem to cry out for help on his Instagram page. In a post just before the killing he wrote about trying to "hide the crippling anxiety. Towards the future and the constant worry that i'll never find someone who loves me".
According to reports, Gonzalez apparently lured Maddy to his apartment with the promise of ice cream. Once he got her in the door, he tied her up with duct tape, beat, stabbed, raped and strangled Maddy.
Adrian Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell is charging Gonzalez as an adult.
Maddy's father says he now wants to shift the focus to his daughter's legacy.
"I just keep feeling strongly that there's positive to come of out of this, I've seen it, how people care more for each other, how they take things less for granted," said Michael Middleton.
Gonzalez is due to be back in court later this month. He is being tried as an adult on all charges, and if he's found guilty he faces a maximum of life in prison.
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