Authorities arrested an ex-convict from Alabama on Thursday on charges relating to the kidnapping, killing and disposing of the body of a 12-year-old girl in Florida.
According to CBS News, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan announced that 38-year-old Robert Letroy Howard had been detained in relation to the case. Morgan noted that Howard “frequented” the apartment of his girlfriend, which is in the same complex where 12-year-old Naomi Jones lived with her family.
“We’ve found our monster,” the sheriff said.
Naomi went missing May 31, prompting a desperate search. Fishermen found her body Monday.
Investigators came into contact with Howard while they were canvassing the area after Naomi was reported missing, the news station notes. Morgan accused Howard of giving police “false information” that he was in Alabama when Naomi went missing.
Surveillance footage was his undoing, apparently showing him by the creek where Naomi’s body was found, Morgan added. Investigators put him under surveillance and took him into custody shortly after.
Howard’s sister Althea Walker defended her brother, taking issue with the sheriff’s description of him.
“I want people to know he is not a monster,” Walker told WKRG. “I am here for my brother and he’ll always be my brother.”
As CBS notes, Howard has a criminal record in Alabama, where he was convicted in 1999 on two counts of sexual assault and rape and served 15 years in prison.
His first court appearance is scheduled for Friday, and Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said that his office will be seeking no bond. Howard is currently being held on a $600,000 bond, CBS notes.
CBS notes that Marcille said that his office will take a look at the evidence but will most likely file first-degree murder charges and possibly seek the death penalty in the case.