DENVER — An 18-year-old Colorado man has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a 12-year-old girl whose decomposed body was recovered this week in an irrigation ditch, police said.
Greeley police Sgt. Joe Tymkowych said the arrest of Robert Laurencio Montoya, a former boyfriend of sixth-grader Kayleah Wilson, is unrelated to the homicide investigation involving her death. Authorities said they know how the girl died, but aren't releasing details.
"This arrest is separate and distinct from the Kayleah Wilson homicide case that is currently being investigated," Tymkowych said in a statement.
Kayleah had been missing since March when her body was found Wednesday in an industrial area about a half-mile from her house. Montoya was arrested that same day, police said.
He faces felony charges of sexual assault on a child, pattern of abuse. He appeared in court Friday where bail was set at $100,000.
His next court hearing is May 25.
Tymkowych said Montoya had previously been interviewed and cooperated with their missing person investigation.
It was unclear whether Montoya had hired an attorney. A home number could not be immediately found.
On Friday, police said they were examining a "mountain of evidence" and developing a list of people to re-interview about the disappearance and death of the 12-year-old.
Tymkowych said they still had no suspects in the slaying but are looking at a range of individuals who had the time and opportunity to kill Kayleah and don't have good alibis.
"We're reviewing every detail that we developed when this was a missing person investigation, deciding which lead could be more fruitful, then prioritizing which people to talk to first," Tymkowych said.
Evidence gathered along the irrigation ditch earlier this week was also being processed for testing. Tymkowych would not disclose what investigators found.
Two eyewitnesses previously told police they saw Kayleah at the Greeley Mall March 28, about a half-hour after her mother said she left to attend a friend's birthday party. Tymkowych said police also have surveillance video from near the mall showing a grainy figure that could be Kayleah.
Kayleah's last known whereabouts are crucial in determining how her body ended up about a mile away from the mall, where a worker checking the ditch after a heavy rain found the body Wednesday.
Meanwhile Greeley, an agricultural community of about 93,000 people 65 miles north of Denver, grieved the death of Kayleah. A steady stream of parents and children, some in tears, visited the spillway in the ditch where Kayleah's body was found. A makeshift memorial of teddy bears, candles, flowers and crucifixes grew on the grassy banks.
"It's an open wound because whoever did this is still out there," Melissa Lujan, whose daughter knew Kayleah said Thursday. "You know it's bringing us together to where we watch our children more often, we tell them we love them, we kiss them goodnight, kiss them before they leave but just knowing that somebody could do this."
Cheryl Frendrich, whose grandson was friends with Kayleah, described her as a "happy little girl, full of life."
The decomposing body had been in the irrigation ditch "for some time" in an area that had been searched twice, Police Chief Jerry Garner said. Greeley is about 60 miles northeast of Denver.
Wilson's March 28 disappearance spawned repeated searches by police, Greeley residents and the FBI. Authorities said they pursued more than 300 leads and knocked on the doors of about 1,000 homes.
No one has been ruled out as a suspect, but investigators have nothing that points to family members, Garner said.
In April, as leads from the public dwindled, authorities increased the reward for information about Wilson to $20,000. Investigators also described behavior that might point to a possible abductor. They urged people to watch for someone who had missed work, had unexplained injuries or shown an unexpected or sudden interest in the case.
Police met with Kayleah's mother, April Wilson, before the public announcement. A victim's advocate said Wilson did not want to speak with the media.