ROMEO, Mich. - Authorities say a man accused of killing Michigan teen April Millsap as she was walking her dog beat her with a motorcycle helmet and stomped her to death in a failed attempt to rape her, reports the Detroit Free Press.
James VanCallis was arraigned Thursday in Romeo District Court on murder and other charges, and he was ordered held without bond. A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of the 32-year-old from St. Clair County.
Millsap's body was found in July near Macomb Orchard Trail in Armada, about 50 miles northeast of Detroit, after her dog alerted a pair of joggers. Prosecutors say there's physical, eyewitness and electronic evidence that places VanCallis at the scene.
Shortly before her July 24 murder, the 14-year-old texted, "I almost got kidnapped OMFG," reports the paper.
Defense attorney Dean Ankouny had sought release on bond. He says VanCallis maintains his innocence.
The night the teen was murdered, Millsap's classmate saw her talking with a man on a blue and white motorcycle, Armada Police Chief Howard Smith said in court, reports the Free Press. Another witness reportedly identified the man as VanCallis.
Smith said Millsap rebuffed VanCallis, but when she started walking away from him, the man pursued her and ambushed her from behind. VanCallis allegedly took her into the woods and continued to beat her and stomp on her until she was dead, Smith said, reports the paper.
Smith reportedly said VanCallis was seen on video with April's cell phone and wearing shoes with a tread pattern that matched marks on the teen's body. Another witness saw the man in the woods near where Millsap's body was found, Smith said, reports the paper.
Smith reportedly said VanCallis tried to rape the teen, but was interrupted by the witness. The witness helped investigators develop a forensic sketch, which they say matches VanCallis.
Assistant Prosecutor William Cataldo reportedly called the teen's death "a violent, senseless and most likely, a random act."
Millsap's father and mother were in court during the hearing. According to the paper, VanCallis only spoke before leaving court to tell the judge, "Thank you, your honor, and you have a good day."
VanCallis has long been considered a person of interest in the case, and had been held on unrelated drug charges. He was charged with Millsap's murder this week.