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Ohio suspect joined search for girl found slain

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 8:48 p.m.

WOOSTER, Ohio — A man accused of killing a 9-year-old neighbor and hiding her body in a trash bin had been building a snowman with her just hours before she was reported missing, investigators said on Monday.

Jerrod Metsker, 24, was the last person seen with the girl at the trailer park where they lived, a sheriff's investigator said. He later joined neighbors and relatives in a search for her, a neighbor said.

Metsker was arrested Sunday, about 12 hours after deputies found second-grader Reann Murphy's body. A judge ordered him held in jail on a $1 million bond after his appearance in court on an aggravated-murder charge.

Investigators with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office described Metsker as a family friend and neighbor. Capt. Douglas Hunter said Metsker has a “diminished mental capacity,” but he wouldn't release information about a specific diagnosis.

People who live in the trailer park said Metsker would play outside with the neighborhood children and built a playhouse out of blankets alongside his home, where he'd spend time with youngsters less than half his age.

Reann and her mother had just moved into the trailer park a few months ago, about the beginning of the school year, relatives said. They lived in an apartment above a maintenance garage at the park outside Smithville, 30 miles southwest of Akron.

The girl's mother was at work on Saturday afternoon while she was at home with her mother's live-in boyfriend, Hunter said. She went outside to play in the snow and was with several other children in the trailer park's courtyard, but the others went home, leaving Metsker alone with her, he said.

Reann was reported missing on Saturday evening, about two hours after she was last seen with Metsker, Hunter said. Police officers, firefighters and neighbors went door to door looking for her. Her body was found buried under trash five hours after she was reported missing.

Metsker took part in the search, neighbor Judy Jarvis said.

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