Madyson Middleton was a typical 8-year old girl who enjoyed riding her new scooter around the apartment complex she lived in with her mother. The living area–part of an artist community in Santa Cruz, California–offered a good space to play in, and Madyson was equipped with a helmet and a purple dress, perfect for a sunny summer Sunday. But by five p.m., Madyson’s mother realized she wasn’t outside anymore. By Monday night, police had found her body dumped in a trash bin.
The community is in shock, and a 15-year old boy has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of murder. His name has not been released due to his minor status, and a cause of death has not been revealed as yet. Madyson was seen on surveillance footage riding her scooter, but she disappeared from sight at a little past four p.m. It’s unclear what the teen’s relationship may be to Madyson and her family.
On Monday morning, Madyson’s mother, Laura, spoke to reporters as a massive search was underway in the neighborhood and beyond.
“Has she ever done anything like this? Nothing! Never! Never! She knows where she can and cannot be here. She was in the courtyard where she was supposed to be. She came over here, and that’s the last we saw of her on surveillance,” Laura Jordan said.
The search for Madyson had a community come together, and many people went without sleep to scour the neighborhoods and the nearby river. Her disappearance was initially feared to be a kidnapping, but because no vehicles were seen in the area on surveillance, investigators quickly changed it to a “missing persons” case.
Police say they will be interviewing several people in the community, some of whom say they saw the 15 year-old boy around the time Madyson disappeared.