SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) — Authorities said Friday that they found the body of a missing 8-year-old girl in a remote area several miles away from her Nebraska home, and they arrested her stepfather on suspicion of murder.
The state patrol said a rancher called police after finding something suspicious, and that investigators found Kerra Wilson's body Thursday evening in a rugged area of Sioux County that is several miles north of her home in Mitchell.
Police had been searching for Kerra since Wednesday afternoon, when her school called her parents because she hadn't shown up. Her stepfather, 32-year-old Salvador Carlos Lopez, told investigators he had dropped her off at Mitchell Elementary School
On Friday, authorities said they don't believe Lopez,
and that the last time Kerra was seen by anyone other than her stepfather was Tuesday evening, when she was with her grandparents.
Mitchell Elementary School principal Kirk Kuxhausen said Kerra did not appear in any of the security camera footage shot in the school or on the playground on Wednesday.
The girl's body had not been moved as of Friday morning because the surrounding terrain was so rugged and because the scene was still being processed, the patrol said. Investigators are still trying to determine when and where the girl was killed, State Patrol Lt. Monica Bartling said.
An autopsy will help reveal how the girl died and whether she was sexually assaulted, Bartling said.
Lopez was being held at the Scotts Bluff county jail, and was scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Sioux County later Friday. Bartling said Lopez does not have an extensive criminal record.
"We were hoping to bring Kerra safely home to her family; sadly, we weren't able to do that," Bartling said.
Kerra Wilson has three younger siblings who are all staying with family members.