Video: Child's slaying

NBC News and news services
updated 1/28/2005 8:59:43 AM ET 2005-01-28T13:59:43

A man has been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of his 7-year-old daughter who was found stabbed to death at a parochial school.

Chris Rhodes, 27, was arrested Thursday night and was being held without bail.

The arrest was based on "forensic evidence we recovered," Highland Falls Police Chief Peter Miller told NBC's "Today" show. Investigators believe first grader Jerica Rhodes was killed at the school, he said, adding that Chris Rhodes' vehicle had been seized.

Jerica Rhodes' body was discovered about 75 minutes after classes started Thursday morning at Sacred Heart of Jesus School, Miller said earlier. He would not say exactly where the girl’s body was discovered but said it was in an area she would not normally be.

Video: Priest, police chief respond Chris Rhodes dropped Jerica off at school during a school assembly and she wasn’t seen again until her body was found, police said. The girl lived with her grandparents in Highland Falls, a small village next to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Police said they had not found a weapon and would not confirm how the girl died.

“I can’t believe, for the life of me, that he would have done anything like that,” Chris Rhodes’ lawyer, Sol Lesser, told the Times Herald-Record. “I know him, and I know how much he loves his daughter.”

On probation
Rhodes, the son of former local police Chief Linwood Rhodes Jr., is on probation for misdemeanor drug possession, according to court records.

A woman who answered the phone listed for the Rhodes family declined comment Thursday.

Police said Jerica’s mother lived “further upstate,” and had not been in regular contact with the girl or Chris Rhodes.

The school, run by the Archdiocese of New York, has 240 students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

The school will remain closed Friday, but counselors will be available to help students and family members, said diocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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