The half-brother of a nine-year-old girl found hanged from a tree has been charged with her murder after he allegedly purposefully tied the rope around her neck.
The body of Katelynn Arnold, a third grader, was found by her aunt on Thursday evening, police in Ragland, Alabama said.
Katelynn was hanging from a rope that was once part of an old tire swing, neighbours said. The coroner described it as ‘a big cotton rope’.
It was tied deliberately in a simple knot around the girl’s neck, but was not a hangman’s noose, St. Clair County Sheriff Terry Surles said.
The youngster’s 14-year-old half brother went to bed after she was taken to hospital but was arrested in the early hours of the morning.
Police said he admitted to killing Katelynn and told officers a motive – but the sheriff would not reveal it.
The boy and girl were living with their aunt and uncle as part of a foster home situation, Surles said.
Katelynn had been riding her bicycle on Thursday evening and her aunt noticed she was missing so drove around looking for her for 45 minutes.
When she returned home, she found the girl handing from a tree outside the home. The sheriff’s department was called at 8.10 p.m.
By the time officers arrived, rescuers had removed Katelynn from the tree. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
An autopsy showed she died as a result of strangulation by ligature and her death was ruled as a homicide.
The girl was remembered as a ‘sweet little angel’ by her school principal Roger Wilkinson. ‘If you were a teacher, you’d like a room full of them,’ he told the Birmingham News.