Prosecutors charge teen with murder in death of 8-year-old

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Prosecutors Charge Teen as Adult in Death of 8-Year-Old

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) --

Prosecutors charged a 15-year-old boy with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault Wednesday in the death of an 8-year-old girl in an artists complex in a California beach town.

Police say Adrian Jerry Gonzalez lured Madyson Middleton into his family's apartment from a courtyard where she had been riding her scooter over the weekend.

Gonzalez remains in custody at the Santa Cruz County juvenile detention center, where he has been held since the girl's body was found in a recycling bin Monday evening.

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Madyson Middleton, missing girl in California
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"Unfortunately, the search for Maddy ended in the worst way possible," Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said.

He said Gonzalez will be charged as an adult and added that in his two decades in Santa Cruz, he's never seen a 15-year-old charged with murder.

The charges could send Gonzalez to prison for the rest of his life.

A call to the Santa Cruz County public defender's office seeking comment on the case wasn't immediately returned. Gonzalez could be assigned a lawyer at his arraignment Thursday.

Authorities haven't been able to establish a motive in the killing. "People do things for lots of reasons, sometimes we understand it, sometimes we don't," Rosell said.

Neighbors at the Tannery Arts Center where both the suspect and Madyson lived said they were stunned by the death. The center is a public-private nonprofit that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families. About 250 people live in the complex, including about 50 children.

"It's a great community because it's a bit unusual," Geoffrey Nelson, a photographer and Tannery resident, said. "You share the joys of people, their children growing up. Their art shows, their recitals. But you also share the sorrows."

Nelson said he's known Gonzalez for several years and described him as shy, though they often chatted.

"He was a yo-yo-expert, so he was oftentimes showing you tricks," Nelson said.

Residents have been heartbroken to learn he's suspected in the death, he said.

"It wasn't somebody from the outside," Nelson said. "It was somebody we all knew. It was someone we all knew and liked."

Setorro Garcia, a Tannery resident who knew both the victim and suspect, said Gonzalez had been curious about the investigation.

"He kept asking, `Any updates?'" Garcia said.

A memorial has been set up in Madyson's honor, overflowing with dozens of bouquets, stuffed animals, balloons, candles and notes. A group of young girls, about Madyson's age, cried there Wednesday.

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Associated Press Reporters Kristin J. Bender and Julia Horowitz reported from San Francisco.

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