GBI: Arrest made in North Georgia girl's slaying

December 7, 2011 - 2:10 PM
Missing Girl Georgia

This handout photo provided Monday Dec. 5, 2011, by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, shows Jorelys Rivera, 7, of Canton, Ga. A team of state law enforcement officials specially trained in child abductions has been brought in to join the search for the 7-year-old Georgia girl missing since Friday. (AP Photo/Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department)

CANTON, Ga. (AP) — A 20-year-old maintenance worker has been arrested in the beating death of a 7-year-old north Georgia girl who was abducted and killed at an apartment complex and her body left in a trash bin, authorities said Wednesday.

Ryan Brunn, who lived and worked at the apartment complex, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon on a murder warrant, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan.

Jorelys Rivera was last seen Friday evening leaving the playground to walk back home to get drinks for her friends. Her body was found three days later.

"We are confident that Brunn is the killer and that is why he is in custody," Keenan said, declining to detail what evidence investigators have against him.

It was not immediately known whether Brunn had an attorney. He was being held at the Cherokee County jail.

Earlier, Keenan had called the killing "very calculated and planned."

Autopsy results showed the girl died of blows to the head and was stabbed and sexually assaulted before her body was placed in a trash bin at the complex, about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

When Rivera's body was found three days after she disappeared, the community where neighbors say they all know each other was shaken and a makeshift memorial took root at the playground.

Investigators said they received numerous tips from the public and that valuable evidence had come from apartment complex residents. They also interviewed several sex offenders living at the complex, Keenan said. On Tuesday he said officials had no reason to believe those sex offenders were involved.

As details of the crime emerged, residents said they were worried.

"I'm very concerned," Drew Baucom, 17, said soon after the killing. "It makes me feel like my home life is violated, that I can't trust somebody walking around that you think you may know, but you really don't. It just worries me that something else will happen like this."

About 65 local, state and federal investigators worked the case and several hundred interviews were conducted, authorities said.

Jeremy Gibson, 24-year-old resident of the apartment community, said before the arrest that he was concerned about the safety of all the children who live there.

"Every day children play out here," he said. "It's starting to become a dangerous place for them. If it's happened to one little girl already, it could happen to someone else. I hope they catch whoever did it soon."