An Alabama convicted sex offender was charged Thursday with kidnapping and murdering 12-year-old Naomi Jones after finding Jones’s body in a creek near her house.
During a press conference held on Thursday, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan identified Robert Letroy Howard, 38, as the suspect. Sheriff Morgan said that Howard’s girlfriend resided in the same apartment complex in which Jones’ family lived.
“We’ve found our monster,” Morgan announced.
Howard is from East Brewton, Alabama. Howard was actually a convicted sex offender as he was charged in 1999 with two counts of sexual assault and rape. He has been jailed for 15 years in an Alabama prison and is listed on the state’s Sex Offender Registry, PEOPLE reports.
The girl disappeared on May 31 afte she left her apartment. She was missing for five days until her body was spotted by fishermen in a creek near her home.
According to Sheriff Morgan, investigators searched for traces in the neighbourhood and encountered Howard. “He gave false information,” Morgan says as Howard claimed that he was actually in Alabama when Naomi disappeared.
Vehicle On Cam
However, a surveillance video displayed that Howard’s vehicle was spotted near the creek where the body lied. Authorities called Howard into question and arrested him shortly after.
Howard has been arrested for a first-degree murder and kidnapping but a public defender would represent him, according to PEOPLE.
Howard’s sister, Althea Walker, tried to stand by her brother in an interview with CBS affiliate WKRG. “I want people to know he is not a monster,” she said.
But the sheriff’s office says that he I certainly the right suspect.
“Over the past week, we haven’t had many good days,” the sheriff said in the press conference. “Today is a good day. Today we arrested the killer of a child. We hope that this arrest can provide some level of comfort to the family and to the community.”