Video: Neighbor arrested for murder of toddler

  1. Transcript of: Neighbor arrested for murder of toddler

    NATALIE MORALES, anchor: A suspect is under arrest this morning in the disappearance and death of a three-year-old Missouri girl. Telemundo 's Angie Sandoval is in Kennett , Missouri , with the latest. Good morning to you, Angie .

    ANGIE SANDOVAL reporting: Good morning, Natalie . Shawn Morgan is charged with first degree murder and he's due in court later today for his arraignment. Last night, I spoke to Breeann 's family, who told me they want to be here also, to face the man who killed their little angel . After nearly a week of exhaustive searches for little Breeann Rodriguez , police arrested a neighbor, Shawn Morgan .

    Mr. STEVE SOKOLOFF (Prosecutor, Dunklin County, Missouri): Morgan is charged with causing the death of Breeann Rodriguez , three years old.

    SANDOVAL: Breeann was last seen August 6th , riding her pink bike on the dead end street outside their home. Neighbors say, Morgan , who's 43 and a father of three, even participated in the search. In the arrest affidavit, police say Morgan told them he brought Breeann inside his home, where he suffocated her with a white plastic trash bag. In a chilling statement, Morgan told police he, quote, "Felt like it took an hour for the girl to die." Morgan says he then put Breeann 's body in the trash bag and dumped it in a nearby river.

    Ms. CLAUDIA RAMOS (Breeann's Mother): I heard that in jail they don't like people that hurt little kids. And I just want him to pay.

    SANDOVAL: Now Morgan does not have an attorney. It is expected the court will appoint one for him later today. In the meantime, the search for little Breeann 's body continue. Natalie :

    MORALES: Such a heartbreaking story.

    SANDOVAL: It is.

    MORALES: Angie Sandoval in Kennett , Missouri , thank you.

NBC, and news services
updated 8/17/2011 2:30:04 AM ET 2011-08-17T06:30:04

Remains believed to be a 3-year-old Missouri girl who went missing more than a week ago were found Tuesday near a series of ditches where authorities say a neighbor is suspected of dumping her body after suffocating her with a plastic bag.

A joint statement sent Tuesday night from prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the area said a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer searching by boat found the body of Breeann Rodriguez near the Floodway Ditches, about eight miles southeast of the girl's family's home in Senath.

"We appreciate all the help and support from the community in what has been a difficult time for all," Dunklin County Sheriff Bob Holder said in the statement. "We are saddened to confirm our fears but glad we have been able to recover her for her parents."

The girl's parents were notified shortly after she was found at 6:30 p.m., according to authorities.

Pink bike
More than four dozen investigators searched a floodway near the Mississippi River earlier Tuesday. Breeann was last seen Aug. 6 riding her pink bike with training wheels in front of her home.

Her parents insisted she would not have ridden farther than the end of the street — and they were right.

Image: Shawn Morgan
Dunklin County Sheriff's Office  /  AP
Shawn Morgan, 43, is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 30.

On Saturday, authorities announced they had arrested a neighbor, Shawn Morgan. Morgan, 43, told agent Tim Trowbridge of the Bootheel Drug Task Force that he found the child on a ladder in his backyard pool, grabbed her and carried her inside his home, where he suffocated her with a white plastic trash bag, according to a probable cause statement the agent filed .

Morgan told Trowbridge it "felt like it took an hour for the girl to die," according to the statement. He did not say why he killed the child.

Video: Man charged with murder of 3-year-old Mo. girl (on this page)

He has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with evidence. He made a first court appearance Tuesday, and his arraignment was rescheduled for Aug. 30 to allow him time to find an attorney. He remains jailed without bond.

'Horrible' impact on town
Stephen Sokoloff, Dunklin County prosecutor, told Reuters that the killing had shaken Senath, a community of about 1,750 people.

"It's horrendous," Sokoloff said. "The impact on the town has been horrible. It's a small town."

A search of online court records did not show any previous charges against Morgan.

Morgan told Trowbridge he put the child's body in the same trash bag he used to kill her and drove to the floodway — a low-lying undeveloped area along a state road — and threw the bag over a railing into a ditch. He said he then went home and dismantled the girl's bike, which he dumped in the same area of the river system.

The bike and training wheels have been found.

The Associated Press, Reuters, NBC News and staff contributed to this report.


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