GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A Gulfport man has been indicted for capital murder in the slaying of a 5-year-old girl who was abducted outside her family’s apartment last year.
Multiple media outlets report Harrison County District Attorney Joel Smith announced the indictment of Alberto Garcia on Monday. A trial date will be set later.
Ja-Naya Thompson was found dead in July 17, 2014, a day after she disappeared. A search dog tracked her scent to a mobile home Garcia is accused of burglarizing days earlier.
An autopsy showed Ja-Naya died of asphyxiation by strangulation, and investigators said she had been sexually assaulted.
Smith says it took more than 14 months to present the case to the grand jury because investigators were waiting for state crime lab technicians to finish analyzing forensic evidence.
The Sun Herald reports that Ja-Naya disappeared from outside her parents’ residence. A massive search with dozens of volunteers followed. She was found dead the next day in the bathroom of a nearby abandoned mobile home. She was found in a bathroom, hanged by two pairs of socks tied to a bathroom window’s metal bar and was wearing only a shirt.
Police called in the FBI for help the night she disappeared. That’s a move Police Chief Leonard Papania later said helped lead to analyzing forensic evidence at the FBI’s crime lab in Quantico, Va.
Community support surged in the search for Ja-Naya and mourners united in their grief. Residents from across South Mississippi later gathered to pay their respects at a visitation, but most were unable to fit inside Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport for her funeral.
Garcia, 30, is being held without bond at the Harrison County jail.