A 36-year-old factory worker who spent much of his adult life in prison was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting and murdering a 14-year-old girl whose badly burned body was found behind gravel piles at the asphalt plant where he worked.
Adam Joseph Longoria was charged with capital murder, criminal sodomy, vehicular theft and vehicular burglary and in the August death of Alicia DeBolt. He could be sentenced to death if convicted of the murder charge, but prosecutors said they hadn't decided whether to seek such a sentence.
During Tuesday's hearing in Barton County Court, Longoria stood with his fists leaning on the table in front of him and started frequently at Alicia's family. Asked by the judge if he understood the charges, Longoria looked away from the judge and said, "Yeah."
Alicia, who would have been a freshman at Great Bend High School this year, disappeared after leaving home on Aug. 21 to go to a party. Her family reported her missing the next day, leading to an intense search until her body was found Aug. 24 behind gravel piles at an asphalt plant in the city where Longoria, also known as "Rocco," worked. The city is home to about 15,000 people and in the middle of the state.
Authorities on Tuesday again refused to say how Alicia was killed, and State Attorney General Steve Six said this was because of the high-profile nature of the case. He described some of the chatter on Internet message boards about the girl's killing "horrific" and misleading.
Six said he doesn't anticipate charging anybody else in Alicia's slaying.
Longoria's attorney, Jeff Wicks of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, declined to comment after the hearing, during which Longoria's bond was increased to $1.5 million.
Alicia's family also declined to comment. Several family members, including her mother, were ushered into a side room outside of the courtroom and kept away from reporters.
Six said he met with Alicia's family over the weekend.
"It's completely devastating," Six said. "They are still in shock and recovering from that. It's something they're continuing to struggle with all the time."
In a statement issued after Alicia's funeral last week, her family described Alicia as "vivacious" and said she was looking forward to the start of her freshman year and to cheerleading. Nicknamed "Babygurl," she was the kind of person who didn't know a stranger and would help people anyway she could, the family said.
Longoria was arrested and charged with vehicular theft and burglary in the disappearance of a white Ford Explorer owned by his employer, Venture Corp. Alicia's body, which was so badly burned that a coroner had to use dental records to identify her, was found at the company's plant.
Longoria was released May 25 from a Texas prison after serving a seven-year sentence for aggravated robbery. Since 1991, Longoria served prison stints in Texas for charges including burglary, forgery, credit card abuse, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, escape from prison and evading arrest.