Arrest Made in Jorelys Rivera Case
Ryan Brunn, 20, is a maintenance worker at the River Ridge apartment complex, GBI Director Vernon Keenan says.
Garrison offered no other details to Canton-Sixes Patch, but at a 1:45 p.m. press conference at the Cherokee County Administration Building and Conference Center, GBI Director Vernon Keenan announced the arrest of 20-year-old Ryan Brunn, a maintenance worker at the River Ridge apartment complex, where Jorelys lived and died.
"We have had Brunn under surveillance since last night," Keenan said.
Brunn, of 12309 River Ridge Dr., came to the attention of authorities based on information from the public.
"We reached a point this afternoon where we had sufficient evidence to obtain arrest warrants for the murder of the 7-year-old child," Keenan said.
Brunn, who Keenan said has no known criminal history, was arrested around 12:40 p.m. Wednesday and taken to the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center, where he is being held on a charge of murder.
"We are confident that Brunn is the killer," Keenan said. "And that is why he's in custody."
Additional charges are expected in the "near future," he said.
Brunn will make his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cherokee County Justice Center in downtown Canton. The hearing will be held in Superior Court Judge Frank Mills’ courtroom (2D).
Brunn's arrest caps an emotional five days. Canton police issued a missing-child alert just before 11 p.m. Friday.
Jorelys, 7, was last seen around 5 p.m. Friday near a playground at the complex.
Over the weekend, as the hours ticked away with no indication of Jorelys' whereabouts, officials reclassified the case as a child abduction and called in state and federal agencies to join the investigation.
As of Tuesday, 65 local, state and federal law enforcement officials were assigned to the case. They included investigators from the Canton Police Department, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, the GBI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
With the additional resources, authorities Monday afternoon located Jorelys' body in a compacting Dumpster from the apartment complex where she lived. An intense manhunt for a murderer began.
Georgia State Patrol troopers checked every car that entered or exited the River Ridge community.
As details of the gruesome Dumpster discovery emerged, residents were on heightened alert.
"I don't really feel too safe," River Ridge tenant Jana McFry said. "I hope we get out of here."
The state's chief medical examiner performed an autopsy on Jorelys on Monday night. Tuesday, Keenan announced the findings.
Calling it a "very horrific and brutal murder," he said the crime was "very calculated and planned."
Investigators estimate Jorelys "died as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head" approximately 60 to 90 minutes after she was abducted from the River Ridge playground around 5 p.m. Friday. She was taken to a vacant apartment, assaulted there, killed, then disposed of in the garbage bin.
The autopsy revealed Jorelys was stabbed an undisclosed number of times and sexually assaulted.
"There were also other injuries to the child which I'm not going to describe," Keenan said Tuesday.
Law enforcement had located an apartment with traces of what appeared to be blood and sent evidence to the GBI crime lab. Preliminary DNA results were expected Tuesday.
Keenan didn't specify what evidence links Brunn to Jorelys' murder.
He said there was no evidence of forced entry into the apartment. It was unlocked. Asked how far the vacant unit is from Jorelys' home, Keenan said, "The buildings are adjacent to each other."
The GBI director told reporters Tuesday that investigators felt "very strongly" that Jorelys' killer "resides in ... or has ready access" to the apartment community. Several registered sex offenders live at River Ridge, but Keenan said there was "no reason to believe at this point that the sex offenders are involved."
Authorities offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Jorelys' killer.
Officials don't know the extent of Brunn's contact with Jorelys or her family, but Keenan said Brunn "was well known in the apartment complex because he was employed there."
Today's development comes on the same day that funeral arrangements for Jorelys were announced.
A public viewing is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home, and a public service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Canton. Rivera's remains will be flown to Puerto Rico for burial after a private service for family members, WSB-TV reported Tuesday night.
The case is far from over.
"This investigation will continue on for several months," Keenan said. "This is a mammoth case."
Still, the arrest was a relief to Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance.
"We did what we set out to do," he said. "Our goal was to make an arrest for what has happened to this sweet, innocent little girl."