[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A man has been arrested for allegedly killing a young woman with autism, weeks after her body was found along the American River in California.
According to a statement from the Rancho Cordova Police Police Department, Mikilo Morgan Rawls was cuffed and booked into Sacramento County Main Jail in connection with the “brutal” sexual assault and homicide of 20-year-old Emma Roark (pictured above).
The 37-year-old suspect, who was described by police as a transient from the Sacramento County area, was charged with murder, rape, and sodomy, and is being held without bail. He’s expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
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Chief Deputy Jim Barnes of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, which made the arrest, said during a press conference on Friday:
“This type of violent crime tears at the fabric of community safety. I am proud of the Sheriff’s Office personnel, which includes the Rancho Cordova Police Department, who stood tall to protect our community and brought resolution to this brutal crime. I also want to thank the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Crime Lab for their collaboration on this investigation.”
Roark was reported missing on January 27. Four days later, police discovered her partially nude body hanging from a tree in a secluded area at the American river access point, which NBC News reported was a homeless encampment.
Police said Roark was kidnapped before her death, noting that she was found about a half-mile from her family’s home northwest of downtown Sacramento, near a place where she frequently walked along the river. Rawls allegedly sold her cell phone to a man following the murder.
Barnes said investigators connected Rawls to the crime through DNA, which police already had in a statewide database. The suspect had a criminal record dating back from 2005 for burglary, resisting arrest, and being a felon in possession of ammunition, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The chief noted during the presser:
“The forensic information that we have is DNA evidence and I’m confident that from the technology and everything we have with the crime lab and the DA’s office, we know Mr. Rawls is responsible for this brutal crime.”
Barnes went on to note that the department is “sympathetic” to the rest of the transient population during these difficult times, adding:
“The Sheriff’s Office is sympathetic to the transient population. We understand that people are experiencing hard times but there is evil amongst them and that’s what Mr. Rawls was. You can’t unsee this, this is as bad as it gets. Now imagine the family has to deal with this.”
Sending love and light to victim’s loved ones.
[Image via Rancho Cordova Police Police Department]