Man Arrested in Murder of Missing Arizona Girl

By Candice Naranjo

Thu Sep 4th, 2014 11:20am America/Los_Angeles

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BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. (AP) — Police arrested a man Thursday in the disappearance and death of an 8-year-old Arizona girl whose body was discovered in a shallow grave near her home.

Justin James Rector, 26, is being held without bond at the Mohave County jail on murder and kidnapping charges.

Authorities have not said how Isabella “Bella” Grogan-Cannella died or whether the family knows Rector. Bullhead City police confirmed Thursday that her body was found the day before. They planned to release more details about the case at a news conference later Thursday.

Court records indicate Rector has a lengthy criminal record involving a dozen cases in the Bullhead City area between 2006 and 2014. His convictions included disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal damage, aggravated assault, assault and criminal trespassing.

Isabella’s family reported her missing early Tuesday after she couldn’t be found in their home in Bullhead City, which is on the Arizona-Nevada border some 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Dozens of police, firefighters and volunteers had joined the search for the girl with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. Her mother told authorities that it would be unusual for Isabella to run away or leave without telling an adult, police spokeswoman Emily Fromelt said.

Investigators found no signs of a break-in or struggle at the home.

The residents of the home include Isabella’s mother, stepfather and other children who are not Isabella’s siblings, police Lt. Jerry Duke said. He added that Isabella’s biological father is not in the area.

KNXV-TV reported that investigators served a search warrant at the family’s home Thursday morning and could be heard telling people in the residence to come out with their arms up.

(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press, All rights reserved.)

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