July 28, 2015

Press Conference Update on the Madyson Middleton Investigation

Below is an outline of the information released by the Santa Cruz Police Department today at our 11:00 AM news conference.  The press conference included Mayor Don Lane, Chief Kevin Vogel and District Attorney Jeff Rosell. 

Chief Vogel started by providing a chronological synopsis of the events in this case:

  • 8-year old Madyson Middleton reported missing on Sunday 7/26 at 6:08 p.m. from the Tannery Arts Center, 1030 River Street, where she lived.
  • Madyson was last seen late Sunday afternoon and was captured on video riding her Razor scooter in the Tannery Arts Center complex.
  • SCPD flooded the area with police officers and detectives after receiving the call that Madyson was missing.  SCPD began an extensive and exhaustive search of the area where she was last seen, including the surrounding woodland areas, open spaces and the San Lorenzo River Levee in an effort to locate her.
  • The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team was called to assist with the search on Sunday evening.  We also requested a specially trained search and rescue K-9 unit from the State Office of Emergency Services to support our efforts.
  • SCPD staff and allied agencies worked through late Sunday night into Monday morning.  Detectives followed up on all leads and continued the search for Madyson in hopes of finding her safe and returning her home.
  • SCPD reached out to the FBI on Sunday evening asking for their assistance.  Within hours, the FBI sent a team of agents and resources to assist with the search for Madyson.  Additional resources were brought in on Monday.
  • On Monday, all available SCPD personnel, FBI personnel and Search and Rescue personnel from Santa Cruz County and adjoining counties continued an extensive search throughout the day hoping to find Madyson and returning her home.    
  • On Monday evening at approximately 7:55 pm, Detectives discovered a body believed to be Madyson Middleton. 

The following new information was provided during the press conference:

Late afternoon on Monday July 27th, Santa Cruz Police Detectives initiated a more thorough and focused canvass of the Tannery Arts Center complex.  The refocusing effort came after police neared the 24 hour mark of Madyson’s disappearance.  The initial phase of the case concentrated on a search for Madyson and an investigation into her disappearance.  As we neared the 24 hour mark, the investigation transitioned into a recovery and forensic effort.  

At approximately 7:55 pm, a Santa Cruz Police detective discovered the body of Madyson Middleton at the bottom of a large dumpster-sized recycle bin on the ground floor of the complex.  The suspect had gone to great lengths to conceal the body.  Madyson’s body was concealed and disguised inside the recycle bin in a way where it was not obvious or readily apparent.  An autopsy is pending to determine the official cause and manner of death.  

A 15-year old male juvenile was immediately arrested and taken into custody.  The suspect was actually standing near the location when Madyson’s body was discovered.  The juvenile suspect resides in the Tannery Arts Complex with his family.   Detectives interviewed the suspect into the early morning hours.  At this point, the suspect is under arrest for the murder of Madyson Middleton. 

Detectives have located evidence that links the suspect to this horrific crime.  That evidence includes Madyson’s belongings, witness statements and video evidence. 

We have determined that Madyson was an acquaintance of the suspect by virtue of both residing at the Tannery Arts Center complex.  Evidence suggests that Madyson was lured to the suspect’s apartment willingly.  Additionally, we have determined that Madyson was murdered inside of the suspect’s apartment and eventually carried downstairs to the recycle bin and concealed within the bin.  Evidence in the case indicates that Madyson was killed prior to the initial call to police on Sunday July 27th at 6:08 pm. 

We have determined the suspect acted alone and not in concert with anyone else.  There is no risk or threat to the community at this point as the suspect is currently in custody at the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Detention Facility.

Chief Kevin Vogel thanked all of our law enforcement partners who assisted and contributed with personnel and other resources for this investigation.  Chief Vogel acknowledged Sheriff Jim Hart and his Search and Rescue Team.  The team tirelessly searched miles of trails, woods, waterways and buildings in hopes of finding Madyson.  Our thanks includes the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office who also dedicated personnel to the search efforts.

Chief Vogel thanked the FBI and Special Agent in Charge Malcolm Palmore who joined our efforts and made every resource available.  Within hours, the FBI brought approx. 50 Agents and stood up a command center to assist in this investigation. 

Chief Vogel gave special thanks to the American Red Cross who sustained our first responders throughout the investigation and search for Madyson. 

Chief Vogel acknowledged and thanked the community members who came forward and offered assistance and support.  Many of our community members made signs and flyers and posted them throughout the area hoping to find Madyson alive.  Once again, you showed how well our community cares for each other during times of crisis. 

Finally, Chief Vogel addressed the family of Madyson Middleton, offering our sympathy, support and prayers.  It was our sincere hope that we would find Madyson and return her home. 

District Attorney Jeff Rosell is expected to file charges within the next few days.