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Missing Pa. daycare worker found dead; stepfather arrested

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania daycare worker who vanished Friday has been found dead and her stepfather has been arrested and charged in her murder.

Officials said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the body of 33-year-old Jessica Padgett was found Wednesday on her stepfather's Northampton property and that an investigation led them to determine the stepfather - 53-year-old Gregory Robert Graf - fatally shot her and disposed of her body.

Officials say Graf admitted to killing Padgett and indicated that there was a "sexual aspect" to the crime.

"The information he gave us led us to believe there was a sexual component," Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

An autopsy will determine whether Padgett was sexually assaulted. Authorities say they are still working to determine the nature of Padgett's relationship with Graf. They say she had worked for him at one point and had access to his house.

Padgett, a mother of three, vanished Friday after leaving her workplace, Duck Duck Goose Child Care in Northampton, for her lunch break.

Morganelli told 48 Hours' Crimesider earlier Wednesday that Padgett left work to go to her mother and stepfather's house to use their fax machine since the machine at her office wasn't working.

Padgett never returned to work and investigators later found her car in the parking lot of a Dollar General store, not far from her mother and stepfather's home.

Officials said Wednesday afternoon that they believe Graf killed Padgett in his home and then drove her vehicle to the dollar store parking lot where he retrieved his own vehicle, which he had parked there earlier.

Authorities say they are working to determine whether the murder was premeditated. Padgett's mother was away in Florida at the time of the murder, according to police.

Padgett's family released a statement following news of the arrest saying they are "devastated by the loss of Jessica."

"She was a beautiful, vibrant young woman who was loved by her family and friends. The world shines less bright today," the statement read.

Graf was being arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

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