The Santa Cruz County Coroner has released the official cause of death for 8-year-old Madyson Middleton after an autopsy was performed.
The autopsy revealed that Madyson “Maddy” Middleton died from asphyxiation and stab wounds to the neck. The Sheriff’s Office has stated that Madyson was not strangled, but died from positional asphyxiation due to the manner in which her body was placed in the dumpster.
Maddy disappeared the evening of July 26, as she was last seen on surveillance footage around 5 p.m. She was outside playing with friends, riding a Razor Scooter at the Tannery Arts Center at 1030 River St.
Maddy lived at the center, which provides housing for artists, with her mother, Laura Jordan.
“She was riding her brand new scooter, it was a white Razor. She had a black helmet on, she was wearing a purple dress, and she was just as happy as can be riding around,” Jordan said.
After she vanished, a day-long search came to an end when her body was discovered in the bottom of a recycling bin at a parking garage for the housing complex.
Not long after, police also arrested 15-year-old Adrian Jerry Gonzalez, who also lived at the complex. Gonzalez was charged as an adult by District Attorney Jeff Rossell with felony murder, kidnapping, forcible rape, and lewd acts on a child under 14.
Investigators believe that Gonzalez lured Maddy to his apartment and then proceeded to rape her, kill her, dump her body in the recycling bin before she was even reported missing.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said that they did not believe Maddy was taken to the apartment by force.
“She went there of her own volition as far as we can tell – she knew him. She was 8-years-old. I think she had a reasonable amount of trust in him. We don’t believe she was taken there against her will.”
The Sheriff’s Office stated that the Coroner has officially ruled the 8-year-old’s death a homicide.
Gonzalez has yet to enter a plea, and he could be sentenced to life if found guilty of his crimes. He remains locked up in a juvenile detention center, where he will remain until he returns to court on September 21.
A celebration of life for Madyson “Maddy” Middleton will be held at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz on August 23.
In addition, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help support Madyson’s mother. According to the page, Laura plans to use some of these donated funds to start a foundation to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.
[Image Courtesy of the Remembering Maddy Middleton Facebook Page]