A 21-year-old man admitted causing the death of a 7-year-old Myanmar girl who disappeared at her apartment complex in South Salt Lake, police said Wednesday.
Esar Met was being held on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and evidence tampering. The details were released in a document used to support his arrest.
The body of Hser Nay Moo was found Tuesday, more than 24 hours after she disappeared from her family's apartment at the South Parc complex, sparking a search that involved hundreds of people. The body was in another apartment.
A Salt Lake County jail document said Met admitted keeping Hser in the apartment by force, resulting in her death.
Met does not have a criminal record in the U.S., and authorities were trying to determine his native country, police said.
Met's mother, Ra He Mar, who also lives in the apartment complex, told the Deseret Morning News, "I don't believe my son did anything wrong."
'I loved her the most'
The girl's father, Cartoon Wah, said through an interpreter Wednesday that he was grateful for an outpouring of public support and that he missed his daughter.
"I have one daughter in this world, and I loved her the most," he said.
Volunteers searched for Hser after she walked away from her apartment following an argument with an older brother Monday.
Her family settled in Utah last summer and are natives of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The country is governed by an authoritarian military regime and has numerous documented cases of human rights abuses, according to the U.S. State Department.
The family is among more than 500 refugees from that country living in Utah, said Norman Nakamura, Utah's coordinator for refugee resettlement.
Candles, stuffed bears and flowers were placed at the apartment complex Wednesday. In a reference to the search, handmade signs said, "You're never so lost that angels can't find you."
Jessica Torres, who lives at South Parc, said her children asked: "Why would someone do that to a little girl? Why does the world have to be that way?"
Hser had four siblings, including a brother born just a few weeks ago. About 400 Burmese refugees have settled in Utah since last year, said Aden Batar of Catholic Community Services.