Police in Oregon say a murder suspect led them to the remains of a teenage girl, whose body was positively identified through DNA testing by the state medical examiner's office today. The victim, a 14-year-old girl named Yashanee Vaughn, had been missing for approximately four months.
The medical examiner was also able to determine a cause of death. "They determined she died of a single gunshot wound to the head," Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Pete Simpson told The Huffington Post.
According to Simpson, 16-year-old Parrish Bennette, Jr., voluntarily provided police with information that led them to Vaughn's remains and did not enter into a deal with police.
"No, no deal," Simpson said. "[We were] just able to get information on where she was."
Vaughn was reported missing by her mother, Shaquita Louis, on March 21. Louis told police she had not had contact with her daughter for about two days. Police soon learned Vaughn had been seen with Bennette the day she went missing.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Bennette's parents' house on March 27. During a search of his bedroom, they found a significant amount of blood splatter throughout the room and on several items, including clothing, a shoe and a flashlight.
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Investigators obtained Vaughn's DNA from a toothbrush and were able to match it to the blood in Bennette's room, police said. On March 31, police arrested the teenager in connection with Vaughn's disappearance. According to Simpson, preliminary evidence suggested Vaughn was killed on March 19, 2011.
Searchers from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of dozens of search and rescue volunteers, conducted several searches for Vaughn but were unable to locate her.
Information Bennette provided to police led investigators to Rocky Butte, an extinct volcanic cinder-cone butte in Portland. On Friday, authorities located Vaughn's remains near the butte.
"The remains found this weekend were confirmed this morning to be those of my granddaughter Yashanee. Although the news was expected, it didn't make it any easier to hear the words from investigators," Reynelda Hayes, Vaughn’s grandmother, said in a statement released by family spokesperson Michelle Bart.
"The family is moving forward on planning a Celebration of Life funeral service for our beautiful girl and we hope...her memory will bring together the community for prayer and peace for all of our children."
Bennette faces charges of first-degree murder with a firearm and first-degree manslaughter with a firearm for Vaughn's death. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail pending trial.