Two men have been charged in the rape and murder of 11-year-old Jacelyn O’Connor in Norwich, New York.
James Brower and Tobias Rundstrum-Wooding are accused of raping and suffocating O’Connor, who was the half-sister of Brower’s children and was on an extended stay with the men when she was killed.
CBS News reports law enforcement was called the home shared by Brower and Rundstrom-Wooding, on the morning of July 30, on reports of a girl in cardiac arrest.
According to the Daily Star, Chenango County medical examiner Dr. John Cruz arrived at the scene and pronounced Jacelyn dead at 12:20 p.m. Sunday. He estimated she died between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Investigators reportedly believe Brower smothered O’Connor as he was sexually assaulting her.
Brower, 36, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on August 1. The suspect entered a not guilty plea and is being held without bail in the Chenango County jail. He is scheduled to appear in court again this week for a felony hearing, reported the Daily Star.
Rundstrom-Wooding, 34, was subsequently charged with first-degree murder on August 4. He was arraigned this morning and was denied bail.
Court documents reportedly accuse Rundstrom-Wooding of “acting in concert with another person to kill the victim in the course of committing the crime of first-degree rape.”
His attorney, Scott Clippinger, told the Washington Post that his client “intends to fight this to the end.”
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride told the Daily Star the men are “facing life in prison without parole if convicted on murder in the first degree.”
WBNG reports Jacelyn’s family released a statement in response to the horrifying tragedy.
“Everyone impacted by this, both family and friends, are staying close to one another, encouraging one another and holding onto their faith. Everyone is praying for the truth to be revealed and beginning the road to healing.”
Feature photo: Handout