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A15-year-old boy accused of luring an eight-year-old girl into an apartment, murdering her and dumping her body in a recycling bin was considered nice and well-mannered by neighbors before the horrific act.
The remains of Madyson Middleton were discovered in a recycling bin close to her home in Santa Cruz, California, on Monday night.
After a police officer made the grim find at the arts complex where she lived with her mother, the teenage boy was arrested in connection with the death.
As he was taken into custody, his mother rushed at police officers in floods of tears, asking why her son was being taken away in handcuffs.
It stunned neighbors who insisted the boy had a good reputation in the community.
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Arrest: The 15-year-old boy is led away by police to be quizzed over the murder of Madyson Middleton, eight
As the young suspect was taken to a police car, his mother (pictured right) rushed at officers
The distraught mom (second right in white top) demanded to know why her son was being taken away
Murdered: Madyson 'Maddy' Middleton vanished from her apartment block in Santa Cruz, California, on Sunday. Her body was found in a nearby recycling bin on Monday evening by heartbroken police officers
San Jose police guard the entrance to the garage after police found a body inside a trash bin inside
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel revealed details at a Tuesday press conference.
Young Madyson 'was lured to the suspect's apartment willingly.'
'Additionally, we've determined that Maddy was murdered inside of the suspect's apartment,' he told reporters.
'She was then carried downstairs to the recycle bin, where she was concealed.'
The suspect acted alone 'and not in concert with anyone else.'
Her body was found at 7:55pm on Monday.
Vogel added that the girl's body was 'concealed in a way that wasn't obvious or readily apparent.'
The 15-year-old boy who was at the complex while crews searched for Middleton and is believed to have helped in the search, was arrested around the same time the girl's body was found, according to Vogel.
'It's my belief that she was killed before we got the phone call Sunday night,' Vogel said. The 911 call was placed at 6:08 p.m.
Police will wait for her autopsy to see if she was also sexually assaulted.
The arrest of the boy stunned mourning neighbors who insisted the boy had a good reputation in the community before the horrific act
A family pays their respects beside the memorial set up by shocked members of the community
Sherry Markle, of Felton, California, lays flowers beside a memorial for Madyson Middleton at the Tannery Arts Center Tuesday, in Santa Cruz, California
Toys, flowers, and candles are left at a memorial for the girl outside the Tannery Arts Center
Terrance Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle: From what I know, he's very well spoken and has a very kind manner. 'It's just a shocking situation altogether.'
Geoffrey Nelson, 60, who lives on the same floor as the teenager, watched as police handcuffed the youth Monday night while his mother looked on in disbelief.
'He's a very, very nice boy. He is known for being really great with the yo-yo.'
The suspect and Middleton were neighbors at the Tannery Arts complex, a public-private nonprofit project that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families, a cafe and dance and art studios.
The suspect is being held at the Santa Cruz Police Department as part of a homicide investigation, said Vogel.
Police had been using scent-specific K-9s from the Office of Emergency Services to hunt for Madyson, who was nicknamed Maddy.
She was last seen on surveillance cameras riding her white scooter at around 4pm at the Tannery's courtyard, where children - both residents and those taking art and dance classes - frequently play.
Her mother reported her missing around 6pm after realizing the young girl was gone around 5pm.
Madyson's mother Laura Jordan told KRON4 on Monday afternoon: 'I can't explain how how difficult this is'
She was last seen riding her scooter on video surveillance at 4.12pm on Sunday in (above)
She was last seen riding her scooter in the Tannery Arts Center courtyard and was reported missing at 6pm
A card with two messages written on rests on flowers and soft toys outside the apartment complex
The investigation at the apartment complex continued on Tuesday as the boy was held in custody
Madyson's parents met with investigators Sunday night and again Monday.
During an interview with KRON4, Maddy's mother Laura Jordan, said: 'She was just happy as could be, riding around.'
When asked if her little girl had 'done anything' like this before, Jordan said: 'Nothing. Never. She's never left Tannery property. She knows where she can and can't be here.
'She was in the courtyard where she was supposed to be. And that was the last we saw of her on surveillance.'
When asked how she was coping, Jordan said: 'I already fell apart. Now I'm in survival mode. I can't explain how difficult this is.'
During the extensive search, police did a door-to-door at the complex and visited a homeless resource center and shelter across the street.
Other officers throughout the state used boats, helicopters, motorbikes and dogs to try and find the girl.
The FBI and sheriffs from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties all took part.
Dogs in the search picked up her scent at a beach but the trail went cold
The arts complex, a former leather tannery, is managed by The John Stewart Company.
John Stewart, the company's chairman, had cooperated with authorities and turned the surveillance footage over to authorities Sunday night.