MADYSON Middleton was riding her new white-coloured Razor scooter in the courtyard of an art and housing project, where 100 apartments are situated for artists and their families.
The eight-year-old was doing nothing wrong. Her mother knew where she was and Maddy was passing time to wait for a friend to finish a board game with her mother.
“She was riding her brand new scooter, it was a white Razor. She had a black helmet on, she was wearing a purple dress, and she just as happy as can be riding around,” her mother Laura Jordan said on Monday.
“She likes to skate around. She loves to chase the boys. She loves playing with Littlest Pet Shop (toy animals), painting them, modifying them, making movies of them.
“She loves her dog, swimming, and she loves to dance and sing. She’s very artistic.”
Her death has shocked the community in the Tannery Arts Centre in Santa Cruz, a beautiful beach city of 62,000 people widely known for its alternative community lifestyles and socially liberal leanings.
The 15-year-old boy knew Maddy — they lived in the same housing project — and was well-known, wandering around the courtyard with his yoyo. He was often in the arts studios helping out.
He gave a yoyo demonstration to kids at the arts centre on July 13, KSBW reported.
The 15-year-old spoke to Maddy and lured her into his family’s apartment where he allegedly killed her.
“She knew him. She was eight years old. I think she had a reasonable amount of trust in him. I don’t think she was taken against her will,” said Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel.
Maddy’s mum was shocked not see to see her in the courtyard.
“I thought she was in the courtyard. I thought she was in the bathroom, checked the art bar, then I started going to every friend’s house,” Laura Jordan told Santa Cruz Sentinel.
“Maybe she got bored waiting for her play date, maybe she found a another friend. But we had no luck.”
She reluctantly called emergency services at 6:08pm on Sunday.
“She’s never gone into the woods, and she knows she’s not supposed to go down to the creek by herself,” said her mum. “People asked if she hides, and she doesn’t do that.”
Maddy was last seen on a video surveillance camera in the building’s courtyard riding her scooter past a cluster of mailboxes at 5:07pm. Then she vanished.
“It’s my belief that she was killed before we got the phone call Sunday night,” Vogel said.
“This is heartbreaking.”
Maddy’s body was found after a massive search which included at least 200 residents (including the accused boy and Maddy’s father Michael Middleton), more than a dozen FBI agents, Santa Cruz Police officers, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team, a helicopter crew, three K-9 units, an amateur drone camera and hundreds of paper fliers and social media posts.
However, her body was discovered after a new and more thorough search of a blue-coloured rubbish bin in a parking garage at the arts centre.
The teenage boy accused of her murder was standing outside the garage watching as detectives found the body buried at the bottom of the dumpster, said Santa Cruz Police Deputy Chief Steve Clark.
People near the find screamed, according to witnesses. Police detained the teen, and members of his family including his mother, who had a confrontation with police, Clark said.
Police then found some of Maddy’s belongings. Video evidence and witness statements also tie the teenage boy to the murder, Clark said.
The boy, who had been spoken to earlier by Santa Cruz Police and the FBI, was taken into custody on Monday night on the suspicion of Maddy’s murder.
The teen remains in Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall.
“Based on what we know at this point, there do appear to be charges that can be filed as an adult,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosell, who is expected to lay charges within days.
Artist Kirby Scudder said people at the centre are devastated. About 250 people live there, including 50 children who have grown up under the watchful eyes of all the parents. The suspect and his alleged victim knew each other, he said.
“We lost not one kid, but two kids, and both parents are in an absolute state of shock,” said Scudder, who described the suspect as admired, well-liked and well-rounded.
Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane said in a statement that “thousands of members of this community are joining with Madyson’s loved ones in grieving this loss.”
Santa Cruz, famous for its boardwalk and the fact that is surrounded on three sides by forests and one side by ocean, is known for its relaxed ambience and its beaches including fabulous surf. It also has a alrge number of working artists.