Father of missing girl indicted on death charges

Daniel  Oats
Police Chief Daniel Oats stands next to a photograph of 6-year-old Aarone Thompson, who has not been seen since November 2005, on Thursday in Aurora, Colo.Ed Andrieski / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man who said his 6-year-old daughter disappeared after an argument over a cookie was indicted on charges including child abuse resulting in her death, prosecutors said Thursday.

The 60-count indictment came 18 months after Aaron Thompson reported Aarone Thompson missing.

Aarone's body has not been found, and few details of the investigation have been released. A copy of the grand jury indictment made public Thursday had many parts blanked out. Not all counts deal with the girl's apparent death, authorities said.

Thompson has denied any involvement in the girl's disappearance. Her biological mother has said she hasn't seen her daughter since 2001 after a bitter split with Thompson, according to police.

Police announced Thompson's arrest Wednesday, and he appeared in Arapahoe County District Court on Thursday to be formally advised of the charges. The most serious charge against him, child abuse resulting in death, carries a penalty of up to 48 years in prison.

He was being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Thompson told police on Nov. 14, 2005, that Aarone had become upset and left the family's home in the Denver suburb of Aurora when he refused to let her have a cookie. Three days later, police abruptly halted a search for the girl and said they believed she may have been dead for as long as 18 months.

Investigators soon said Thompson and his girlfriend, Shely Lowe, were "persons of interest" in Aarone's disappearance. Lowe, who also denied any involvement in the girl's disappearance, died in May 2006 of an apparent heart attack.

Other children who lived with Thompson and Lowe were taken into state custody. Thompson has been unsuccessfully fighting in court to get them back.

Protecting other children
District Attorney Carol Chambers said details of the case have been kept secret partly to protect Thompson's other children and partly to avoid heavy news coverage that could force the case to be moved if it goes to trial.

Asked why the grand jury did not return a murder charge, Chambers said, "We charge what the evidence supports."

Aaron Thompson's attorney, David Lane, removed himself from the case Thursday so Thompson could get a public defender and become eligible for state help to pay for investigations and other defense services.

Lane said he believes limiting such state help to public defenders is unconstitutional and could be grounds for an appeal.