An Indiana teen accused of molesting and killing a young girl told authorities he attacked the victim at the direction of a “shadowy man” who controlled him, the Sound Bend Tribune reports.
The 14-year-old boy, whose name has not been released publicly because he is a minor, has been charged with child molestation and murder in connection with the death of 6-year-old Grace Ross.
Ross’ family reported her missing around 6:30 p.m. March 12 after she was last seen in a residential neighborhood in New Carlisle, Indiana. Her body was found about two hours later in a wooded area nearby.
A woman later brought her son to police, and he was identified as the 14-year-old boy accused of killing Ross, the newspaper reports.
An autopsy determined that Ross died from asphyxiation.
Prosecutors on Friday released an investigative report detailing the alleged circumstances around Ross’ death. According to those records:
The teen first told investigators that Ross followed him into the woods, and that he wandered around, losing track of her. The boy later said that a “shadowy man was controlling him” and forced him to strangle the girl, WNDU-TV reports.
The teen told police that he checked the girl’s pulse to determine whether she was dead, and that he felt the girl’s soul or spirit exit her body, according to the television station.
He then ran out of the wooded area and returned to his family’s apartment. He had blood on his hands, and he removed his clothing, took a shower, put the soiled clothing behind a bathroom door and put on clean clothes, according to the newspaper.
Lawyers for the teen sought to seal off public access to the investigative report, asserting that disclosure of the information and the intense public interest in the case could prejudice their client.
But on Wednesday, St. Joseph County Probate Court Magistrate Graham Polando ruled that juvenile court proceedings can be made public under Indiana law if the offense would be charged as murder or a felony if the defendant were an adult.
The ruling prompted the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office to release the report Friday.
“We conclude that the public’s interest in information regarding the basis for this ongoing matter supports our release of this particular document in this case,” the office said in a written statement, according to the South Bend Tribune.
While the investigative report was released, hearings involving testimony from psychiatrists or other mental health professionals may be closed to the public.
A hearing scheduled for May 13 about whether the teen’s case should be moved to adult court has been postponed so prosecutors and defense attorneys can analyze the outcome of a mental health evaluation, according to the report.
New Carlisle is about 15 miles west of South Bend, Indiana.
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