A grocery store stocker was arraigned Monday on first-degree murder charges in the killing of a 10-year-old girl in what authorities said was an elaborate plan to eat human flesh.
Kevin Ray Underwood, 26, was led into court with his hands and feet shackled, and spoke softly as he told the judge he needed a public defender.
McClain County Judge Gary D. Barger entered a not guilty plea for Underwood, whose court-appointed attorneys requested a gag order.
They complained that officials had made “inflammatory, prejudicial and conclusory statements” to the media that had helped fuel widespread interest in the case. A hearing on the motion will be held Tuesday, the judge said.
Authorities believe Underwood killed Jamie Rose Bolin last week after she disappeared after going to a library. Her funeral was scheduled for Thursday.
Prosecutor Tim Kuykendall said after the arraignment Monday that he would seek the death penalty.
“In my 24 years as a prosecutor this ranks as one of the most heinous and atrocious cases I’ve ever been involved with,” he said.
During the arraignment, a man in the hall outside the courtroom yelled, “Let’s string him up. Let’s string him up, baby killer, and hang him.” Police led the man away.
Underwood was arrested Friday and held without bail after drawing suspicion at a checkpoint set up near the apartment complex where he and the young girl were neighbors.
Authorities said he led investigators to his apartment, where they found Jamie’s body in a large Rubbermaid tub sealed with duct tape in his bedroom closet.
‘Go ahead and arrest me’
Authorities believe Underwood lured the 10-year-old into his apartment, beat her on the head with a wooden cutting board and suffocated her with his hands and duct tape.
Police Chief David Tompkins said investigators believe Underwood sexually assaulted Jamie after he killed her and planned to eat the corpse.
Meat tenderizer and barbecue skewers found in his apartment were intended for the little girl, Kuykendall said.
According to a police affidavit, Underwood confessed that he killed Jamie, telling FBI agents: “Go ahead and arrest me. She is in there. I chopped her up.”
Police said that while there were deep saw marks on the girl’s neck, she had not been dismembered.
Suspect's mother in disbelief
In a brief, tearful telephone interview with The Associated Press, Underwood’s mother was in disbelief and horror over the accusations.
“This is something that I don’t know where it came from,” said Connie Underwood. “He was always a wonderful boy.
“I would like to be able to tell her family how sorry we are. I just feel so terrible.”
Underwood’s parents have visited him in jail, with the conversation ending in tears, Tompkins said.
“It seemed to help the family out a lot and help Kevin out a lot,” Tompkins said. “Kevin realizes he has done wrong.”