PENSACOLA, Fla. – An ex-convict from Alabama is accused of kidnapping, killing and disposing of the body of a 12-year-old Florida girl.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan announced the arrest of Robert Letroy Howard, 38, of East Brewton, Alabama, during a news conference Thursday morning.
Morgan said investigators zeroed in on Howard during a canvass of the neighborhood where Naomi Jones lived near Pensacola. Morgan said Howard "frequented" the Aspen Village apartment of his girlfriend, which is "very near" the Jones family's apartment.
The sheriff said Howard gave "false information" that he was in Alabama when the girl was reported missing.
He was convicted in 1999 on two counts of sexual assault and rape in Alabama and served 15 years in prison.
It is not known whether Howard has an attorney. He was arrested Thursday morning.
He's being held on a $600,000 bond.
Preliminary autopsy results indicate that a 12-year-old girl found in a Florida creek was likely suffocated.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said during a news conference that Naomi Jones was probably killed in the first 24 to 36 hours after she was last seen on May 31 and said the child might have been targeted by a sexual predator with whom she had previously interacted on social media.
He said Naomi was active on social media, but said authorities don't yet have a direct link to a suspect.
Morgan said investigators believe that she was "picked up almost immediately when she left the house" and was taken to another location.
Fishermen found her body Monday several miles from her home.
Investigators are working with the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.