Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

Currently: 73° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Man arrested in death of missing Bullhead City girl

This Sept. 4, 2014 photo provided by the Bullhead City, Ariz., Police Department shows Justin James Rector, 26 of Bullhead City. Early Thursday, authorities arrested Rector on suspicion of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the death of an 8-year-old Arizona girl reported missing from her home.

This Sept. 4, 2014 photo provided by the Bullhead City, Ariz., Police Department shows Justin James Rector, 26 of Bullhead City. Early Thursday, authorities arrested Rector on suspicion of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the death of an 8-year-old Arizona girl reported missing from her home.

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — Police arrested a man Thursday in the disappearance and death of an 8-year-old Arizona girl whose body was discovered in a shallow grave near her home.

Justin James Rector, 26, is being held without bond at the Mohave County jail on murder and kidnapping charges.

At a press conference Thursday police said Rector was a friend of Isabella “Bela” Grogan-Cannella's family and was living in their home. Bullhead City Police Chief Brian Williamson said unique shoe prints were found near the girl's body matching Rector's shoes.

Police also accused Rector of shop-lifting clothes from a Wal-Mart to help cover up the crime.

Authorities have not said how Grogan-Cannella died.

Court records indicate Rector has a lengthy criminal record involving a dozen cases in the Bullhead City area between 2006 and 2014. His convictions included disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal damage, aggravated assault, assault and criminal trespassing.

Isabella's family reported her missing early Tuesday after she couldn't be found in their home in Bullhead City, which is on the Arizona-Nevada border some 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Dozens of police, firefighters and volunteers had joined the search for the girl with dark blond hair and blue eyes. Her mother told authorities that it would be unusual for Isabella to run away or leave without telling an adult, police spokeswoman Emily Fromelt said.

Investigators found no signs of a break-in or struggle at the home.

The residents of the home include Isabella's mother, stepfather and other children who are not Isabella's siblings, police Lt. Jerry Duke said. He added that Isabella's biological father is not in the area.

Police said they served a search warrant at the family's home.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy