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The man charged with murder in the death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella used to baby-sit the little Arizona girl and was thought of as part of the family, her parents told NBC News on Friday.
Justin James Rector, 26, of Bullhead City was arrested Thursday on charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder charges after Isabella's body was found in a shallow grave near the family's home. The girl, who was known as "Bella," had been strangled, the Mohave County medical examiner's office said.
Police said Rector had been living with the family for the few days. Bella's grief-stricken mother, Tania Grogan, said the suspect used to watch Bella, adding through tears: "I thought we were family. I want him to hurt the way she hurt."
"I would give anything just to hold her one last time, just to kiss her cheek one last time, just to tell her how much I love her one last time," she told NBC News. "And I'm never going to be able to do that." Rector has pleaded not guilty, and is being held without bail.
- 'Family Friend' Arrested in Killing of Arizona Girl Isabella Grogan-Cannella
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