Last Wednesday evening, Kiaya Campbell was reported missing. The Colorado 10-year-old had reportedly gone for a walk with the 15-year-old son of her father’s girlfriend; according to the teen, the pair had been walking from his Thornton home to a retail shopping area when they became separated during a sudden rainstorm. Campbell was first reported missing by her sister, just before midnight. When 10-year-old Kiaya wasn’t found right away, investigators issued an Amber Alert for the Colorado girl at around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
As 9 News reports, Kiaya Campbell was unfamiliar with the area where she disappeared. The 10-year-old lived with her mother full-time in Montbello and was only visiting her father in Thornton when she went missing, heightening concern for her well-being at the time of her disappearance.
Also adding to investigators’ concern for Kiaya’s safety was the fact that her neighbors told police that they didn’t believe that it had been raining at the time that she vanished.
Hundreds of neighbors and volunteers joined in the search for the Colorado 10-year-old, and at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday — just hours after the Amber Alert was issued — a search volunteer made a horrific discovery. Kiaya Campbell’s battered body was discovered just two miles from where she had reportedly last been seen alive and only about a mile from her father’s home. As Fox News reports, Kiaya had suffered such severe trauma that a medical examiner was unable to determine a precise cause of death.
Despite being unable to determine a cause of death, investigators immediately treated 10-year-old Kiaya’s death as a homicide and investigated it as such.
Now, reports People, police have made an arrest in the murder of Colorado 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell. At 11:38 p.m. on June 10, just days after her Kiaya disappeared, authorities arrested a 15-year-old suspect and charged the teen with first-degree murder in connection with the Colorado 10-year-old’s death. The 15-year-old is reportedly being held at the Adams County Juvenile Detention facility. Authorities have not released the teen’s name, and it is unclear if he is the 15-year-old son of her father’s girlfriend, the teen Campbell was reportedly walking with when she disappeared.
Investigators have not released a potential motive for the murder at this time.
At this early stage in the investigation, it is unknown if the 15-year-old suspect in the Kiaya Campbell murder could be tried as an adult, or if the prosecutors involved in the case will even petition the court to charge him as an adult. At this point, the 15-year-old suspect has yet to even be formally charged. Under Colorado law, if such a request is made, the court is required to consider a slew of variables before deciding to hand down adult charges to a minor.
Sad... but we all knew he was involved. He will DEF be tried as an adult! #ThankYouTPD— Mrs Mavstang (@bpcotton06) June 11, 2017
Prayers and compassion going out to the family. Losing a family member is hard,,lbut like this is unbearable. God speed on the investigation— Micki Hogan Author (@MHoganAuthor) June 9, 2017
I am heartbroken for the family and loved ones of Kiaya Campbell. My community came together this eve and we will continue to send our love.— Anginet (@Anginet) June 9, 2017
Well it was probably the same 15 year old she walked to the store with her dad's girlfriends son not hard to put it together.— Jennifer Stahle (@Jennifer_Stahle) June 12, 2017
Included among those variables are the mental/emotional maturity of the minor suspect, the manner the crime was committed and the severity of the crime.
If the court does allow the 15-year-old suspect in the Kiaya Campbell case to be tried as an adult, and if he’s convicted of first-degree murder, the maximum sentence allowable under Colorado law is life in prison with eligibility for parole in 40 years. Because the suspect in the case is under 18-years-old, neither the death penalty nor life in prison without the possibility of parole are on the table.
According to legal analyst Scott Robinson, regardless of whether or not the death penalty is an available sentence, the crime committed against Kiaya Campbell was “heinous.”
“Any time a 10-year-old is murdered, it doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is 15 or 50; it’s a heinous crime.”
It could be months before the district attorney announces whether or not the suspect in Kiaya Campbell’s murder will be charged as an adult to handled by the juvenile system.
In the aftermath of her death, neighbors (many of whom volunteered in the search efforts to bring her home safe) held a candlelight vigil of Kiaya. A memorial for the Colorado 10-year-old has also been erected in the dry creek bed near where her body was found.
Since the discovery of her daughter’s body, Kiaya Campbell’s mother has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fund her daughter’s memorial and other final expenses.
On her GoFundMe page, Chantel Cambell thanked everyone who helped find Kiaya and promised to keep mourners informed regarding funeral services.
“This beautiful soul was stolen from us. We appreciate everything everyone has done in this situation.”
At this time, it is unclear if the 15-year-old suspected of murdering Colorado 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell has retained or been appointed an attorney.
[Featured Image by Thornton Police Department/Twitter]