The 14-year-old half-brother of Katelynn Arnold has been charged with murder in her death, St. Clair County Sheriff Terry Surles announced in a news conference Friday afternoon.
The juvenile suspect's identity has not been released, but Surles confirmed he is the half-brother of 9-year-old Katelynn Arnold and says the siblings were living with their aunt and uncle, who served as their foster parents.
The sheriff says Katelynn's half-brother was taken into custody late Thursday night and questioned early Friday morning. He was charged with Katelynn's murder this morning.
Authorities have not released a motive for the murder. Sheriff Surles says he has no idea what led to the young girl's killing, but says the investigation is nowhere near over. He clarified that Katelynn's death was in no way an accident, and said it was "definitely an intentional situation."
Sheriff Surles told Fox 6 News the 14-year-old suspect admitted to authorities that he intended to kill his sister.
The sheriff says Katelynn had been riding her bike at her foster family's house when her half-brother called her over. Surles didn't elaborate on what happened next, but says the boy went inside the house to go to sleep around 7:15 p.m. Not long after he went inside, the kids' foster mother noticed Katelynn was missing and drove around looking for her for about 45 minutes.
When she returned home, she found Katelynn's body tied by a rope to a tree in a side yard. Neither the foster mother nor foster father are facing charges in the case, Surles said.
The sheriff noted that Katelynn's feet were touching the ground when her body was found. One end of the cotton rope was tied around a tree limb and the other was tied in what Sheriff Surles described as a figure-eight knot around Katelynn's neck.
The sheriff's office received a call about the girl's death at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, May 9.
Katelynn Arnold was taken to St. Vincent's St. Clair hospital in Pell City, where she was officially pronounced dead. The preliminary cause of death is strangulation by ligature, according to St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell.
The 14-year-old suspect is being held at the Coosa Valley Detention Center in Anniston, according to St. Clair County DA Richard Minor. A hearing will be set later today to determine whether or not the 14-year-old suspect will be tried as an adult.
It is not known how long Katelynn and her half-brother had been in the care of a foster family or why they were not living with their biological parents.
Correction: In earlier stories we reported that Katelynn Arnold was 8 years old. Sheriff Surles confirmed at the press conference today that she was 9 years old.
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