updated 11/12/2007 6:19:00 PM ET 2007-11-12T23:19:00

A man charged in the rape and murder of his 9-year-old stepdaughter told investigators he took part in the crimes, according to court filings.

Barry County prosecutor Johnnie Cox declined Monday to call David Spears’ statement a confession, saying that the term can be vague and misleading.

Spears, 25, and his friend Chris Collings, 32, are charged with first-degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in the death of Rowan Ford. Her body was found Friday in a southwestern Missouri cave about 10 miles south of her home in the village of Stella.

After Rowan disappeared Nov. 2, Spears had said he had gone out with friends and left the girl alone that night while her mother worked. He was arrested Friday after Collings turned himself in earlier that day and confessed, authorities said.

The men were interviewed separately, and each said he was the one who strangled the girl. Cox declined to comment on inconsistencies in the suspects’ stories, saying he could refer only to what has been made public in court filings.

Spears and Collings are due to have a first court appearance Tuesday, Cox said.

Neither man apparently has a lawyer yet, Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly said. Spears’ mother said Saturday she expects her son to ask for a public defender. She could not immediately be reached Monday.

Spears’ mother told The Associated Press on Saturday her son had told her from jail that he took part in the crime, although she was unclear on the details. Collings’ brother, Greg Horton, said Saturday that he could not believe his brother was involved.

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