SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —Police Chief Kevin Vogel said late Monday night that the missing 8-year-old Santa Cruz girl, Madyson “Maddy” Middleton, has been found dead.
Police arrested a 15-year-old boy who lives in the same apartment building at the Tannery Arts Center on River Street as Madyson’s family.
He is considered a homicide suspect, Vogel said.
Madyson was last seen riding her white Razor scooter at 4:12 p.m. Sunday outside the apartment building. Her mother realized the girl was missing less than an hour later, and called police. Law enforcers and volunteers immediately began searching, and FBI agents joined the search soon after.
Madyson’s body was found by detectives at 7:55 p.m. Monday hidden inside a dumpster at the art center.
Officers arrested the boy at the Tannery Arts Center complex and took him to the Santa Cruz police station for questioning. Vogel said he did not know how or if the boy knew Madyson, and did not release a motive for possibly killing her.
Vogel said that the tragic moment and large media presence during his late night press conference gave him the same terrible feelings that he experienced when two of his officers were murdered in the line of duty.
“It’s horrible. It’s awful. It’s heartbreaking. The last time I stood in front of a group like this was when my officers were killed. And it feels just like it did that night,” Vogel said.
Friends and neighbors described the 8-year-old, who everyone called”Maddy,” as outgoing and full of spunk.
She had a new scooter and was showing it off Sunday. Then she was gone.
KSBW interviewed the girl’s mother, Laura Jordan, Monday morning. She said her daughter would never leave with a stranger.
“Has she ever done anything like this? Nothing. Never. She knows where she can and cannot be here. She was in the courtyard where she was supposed to be. She came over here, and that’s the last we saw of her on surveillance (video),” Jordan said.
Police reviewed surveillance video showing the girl happily riding her scooter shortly before she vanished.
Neighbors spent all of Sunday night scouring the area, with no luck.
“We’re all feeling a little helpless at this point. We’ve checked the tents. The homeless camps and we’ve been up all night. We’ve been to Paradise Park and scoured the river,” said neighbor Emerson Sanderson.
The Tannery Arts Center provides artists and their families with an affordable place to live and create art. Artists who live there are part of a close-knit community.
Everyone was in disbelief when they heard her body was found.
“I had so much hope that we would find her,” family friend Gemma Locatelli said. “Cause we were all looking. This entire community rallied around finding this little girl.”
Previous news updates below:
11:40 am Monday update: The police department was called to the Tannery Arts Center, 1030 River Street at 6:08 p.m. Sunday on a report that Madyson was missing. SCPD and FBI agents coordinated search efforts with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s search and rescue team. Specially trained K-9 dogs searched the San Lorenzo River levee and beaches.
10:50 am Monday update: Police said they consider this a “missing child” case, not a kidnapping case, because no vehicle was seen that may have played a part in Madyson’s disappearance. Authorities said that this case did not qualify for initiating the California Amber Alert system.