Police said 13-year-old Christina was strangled by a married restaurant worker she met on the Internet. Her body was found early Monday in a remote ravine in Greenwich.
Saul Dos Reis, 25, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil, confessed Sunday to the killing and led law officers to the body, U.S. Attorney John Danaher III said.
Classes were canceled Tuesday at the St. Peter School so students and parents could attend a memorial service and meet with grief counselors.
"I'm so devastated," former teacher Andrea Cappiello said.
"She was a very good student and a very good cheerleader. She was very spirited, just a doll," said Cappiello, who taught Christina's fifth-grade English and religion classes.
But the girl also had a tougher side, Cappiello said.
"She was streetwise," she said. "But you could see the other side coming up, too. It's clear she was very torn in both directions."
Dos Reis was arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport on a charge of using an interstate device — the Internet — to entice a child into sexual activity. He was ordered held without bond. A bail hearing was scheduled for Friday.
Police said the teen-ager routinely had sex with partners she met on the Internet and that she had been with Dos Reis several times, The News-Times of Danbury reported.
Authorities found e-mail indicating that the two had agreed to meet Friday night. Dos Reis told police he accidentally strangled Christina while they were having sex in his car in a mall parking lot, The News-Times reported.
Police said Dos Reis then dumped her body about 25 miles away.
Harold Pickerstein, Dos Reis' court-appointed attorney, declined to comment on the allegations but said he expected his client to plead innocent.
Pickerstein criticized Danaher for releasing details of the alleged confession.
"It's inappropriate, in my opinion, to discuss evidence in a case in which there has not even been a charge or an indictment," Pickerstein said.
Christina came to Danbury two years ago to live with her aunt, Shelly Rilling, because her parents had substance abuse problems.
Rilling, who was eventually awarded custody of the girl, has declined to comment. Police said she apparently did not know anything about her niece's online activities.
"There was some pretty graphic stuff," Police Chief Robert Paquette said.
Police said Dos Reis used the screen name "Hot es300," apparently referring to a Lexus model.
Dos Reis has lived in the United States since he arrived here from Brazil at age 10, Paquette said. He attended Greenwich High School and had no criminal record.
He lives in a rented apartment with his wife, a receptionist, and worked long hours at his father-in-law's restaurant in nearby Port Chester, N.Y., neighbor Omar Moreno said.
Monday night, Danbury residents gathered to voice their concerns about the violence in their community.
"It's an opportunity for parents and children to come in and talk a little bit about their feelings. And we have counselors that are in there. They'll certainly be able to express their feelings about the tragedy that has happened to the city," Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton told Hartford, Conn. CBS affiliate WFSB.
Speaking about her son, Beverly Stevens said: "Even though he's 13 years old, he has to ask me every time he goes on and he has to let me know which sites he's going on. And he's never on the Internet without my being there."