NEW YORK (CBS/AP) A teen suspect has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten of St. Martins, Mo., whose body was found in the woods near her home after she went missing last week.
The accused 15-year-old, whose name and gender have not been released, led police to the girl's body several hundred yards from her house, according to Cole County Sheriff Greg White. The child's remains were discovered Friday Oct. 23, two days after she disappeared.
"We had been in that area - actually more than once. The body was very well concealed," said White, who would not say whether police believed Elizabeth had been killed in the woods.
White has said the teenage suspect is not related to Elizabeth but was acquainted with her and is from the same area just west of Jefferson City in central Missouri.
Police initially had said Elizabeth was last seen walking home from a neighbor's house on Wednesday night. White said that timeline was developed through interviews.
But on Saturday, White declined to say whether police believed Elizabeth had already started walking home when she encountered the suspect. He said many details could not be released to avoid risking the prosecution's case and because the suspect is a juvenile.
Police would not say Saturday whether there had been a confession, nor would they describe the teen's demeanor or offer more details about written documents that led them to the suspect. White also declined to say whether calls had been made from Elizabeth's cell phone, which was found "very, very close" to her.
Police narrowed the primary search area after tracing the phone's general location, but the phone's battery had died by Thursday morning.
Under Missouri law, children as young as 12 can be charged as adults with first-degree murder. But the case must start in the juvenile court system while a hearing is held on whether to transfer it to an adult court. Juvenile court records generally are closed under Missouri law unless a judge grants an exception.
Cole County Juvenile Court Administrator Michael Couty said the suspect was in the custody of the juvenile justice system and would undergo a background and psychological check. Couty planned to request a hearing next week before a family court judge to determine whether the suspect should be tried as a juvenile or an adult. That hearing would be closed to the public.
An autopsy was being conducted Saturday to determine the time and cause of death.
The Olten family has received help since Elizabeth's disappearance from Missouri Missing, a group that highlights missing-person cases and provides emergency aid to families. Group spokeswoman Ra'Vae Edwards relayed a request for comment Saturday to Elizabeth's family.
"They don't have anything to say right now other than they're working on arrangements for the funeral," Edwards said, "And they wanted to thank the community for their support and prayers."
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November 18, 2009 - Prosecutor: Alyssa Bustamante Killed Elizabeth Olten Because "She Wanted to Know What it Felt Like"
November 18, 2009 - Alyssa Bustamante to be Tried as Adult for Murder of 9-Year-Old Elizabeth Olten
October 26, 2009 - Elizabeth Olten Murder: Teen Arrested for Killing 9-Year-Old
October 23, 2009 - Elizabeth Olten's Body Found After Two Day Search for Missing Cole County, Missouri Girl
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