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Somer Thompson Murder: Person of Interest Jarred Harrell Arrested with Child Porno

(AP)
(AP Photo/Clay County Sheriff Office)
(Family Photo)
(CBS)
(family photo)
ORANGE PARK, Fla. (CBS/AP) Almost 4 months after investigators pulled 7-year-old Florida girl Somer Thompson's lifeless body from a Georgia landfill, police have arrested a man they are calling a person of interest.

Photo: Somer Thompson.

PICTURES: Somer Thompson

Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said Jarred Harrell, 24, who had lived in the girl's northeast Florida neighborhood was arrested in Mississippi Thursday on 29 charges of possession of child pornography. He has not been charged in Somer's death.

Photo: Jarred Harrell.

PICTURES: Somer Thompson

Somer vanished Oct. 19 as she was walking home from school, sparking a search that lasted for two days. Investigators sorted through more than 225 tons of garbage at a landfill some 50 miles away, across the state line in Georgia, before their worst fears were realized: Sticking out of the rubbish were a child's lifeless legs.

Authorities have checked into thousands of tips in the case in the nearly four months since, but no one has been charged in the killing.

Photo: Somer Thompson.

PICTURES: Somer Thompson

Harrell, who was arrested in Meridian, Miss., had lived until recently in a home near Somer Thompson's. Authorities searched that house Thursday. Deputies and an FBI forensics team were seen searching its front yard with rakes and shovels. The sheriff's office restricted access to at least a block around the home, which is in a neighborhood filled with tidy, ranch-style houses.

Photo: Somer's mother, Diena Thompson, speaks during a news conference on Oct. 21, 2009.

PICTURES: Somer Thompson

According to Harrell's arrest report, in August he was kicked out of an Orange Park apartment after a roommate thought he had stolen a cell phone. Harrell left behind a computer, and the roommates said they searched it because they thought Harrell had been using it to look at child porn, the report says.

Photo: Somer Thompson and her brother.

PICTURES: Somer Thompson

The roommates said they did find porn involving young girls and turned the computer and discs over to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office on Aug. 10. The materials were sent to state investigators, who confirmed the contents.

It is unknown when Harrell moved into the Orange Park house that was searched Thursday, or when he left the neighborhood.

Dawn Nuss, 39, whose 8-year-old daughter Christina used to walk home with Somer, said her daughter told her that Somer used to stop at the house and pet a white dog. No one would ever come out of the house. Sometimes Somer would run ahead of the children walking home and hide in a ditch.

Before the arrest was announced, the girl's mother, Diena Thompson, said she didn't want to get her hopes up that a break had been made in the case.

"I'm not speculating on anything. I don't want to get my hopes up and I don't want to get my hopes down," she told The Florida Times-Union. "I'm going to put my faith in God."

Harrell is being held on $1 million bond.

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PICTURES: Somer Thompson

MORE ON CRIMESIDER
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November 4, 2009 - Reward Now $45K to Find Somer Thompson's Killer
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October 27, 2009 - Somer Thompson Funeral: Little Girl Laid to Rest as Sky Fills with Purple
October 27, 2009 - More Than 1,000 Tips But No Leads in Somer Thompson Murder
October 26, 2009 - Somber Sendoff for 7-Year-Old Somer Thompson, Florida Girl Who Vanished After School
October 23, 2009 - Somer Thompson Pictures: Her Mother Vows Justice, A Community Vows Never to Forget
October 23, 2009 - In Somer Thompson Murder, Local Sex Offenders No Longer Suspects, Say Cops
October 23, 2009 - Somer Thompson's Mom to Killer: "We're Coming For You"
October 23, 2009 - How Police Found Somer Thompson and How They Hope to Catch Her Killer
October 22, 2009 - Somer Thompson Body Likely Found, Says Florida Sheriff
October 21, 2009 - Search for Missing 7-Year-Old Somer Thompson Leads to Body in Landfill
October 20, 2009 - Somer Thompson Vanished After School, Seven-Year-Old Girl Missing in Orange Park, Fla.

  • Edecio Martinez

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