Ohio resident, Jerrod Metsker, 24, pleaded not guilty Thursday in a Wayne County court for the rape and strangulation murder of his neighbor, Reann Murphy, 9. The young girl went missing the evening of Dec. 14, and her body was found in a trash bin Dec. 15 near her home, after an intensive search involving authorities and local neighbors, including Metsker himself. He was arrested the same day Reann’s body was discovered.
On Dec. 20, Metsker was indicted on specific charges of two counts of aggravated murder, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of rape. If he is found guilty of these charges, he could face the death penalty. Metsker has been held in jail on $1 million bail since the day of his Dec. 15 arrest.
Reann Murphy went missing from her mobile park home Dec. 14 in Smithville, Ohio, some miles southwest of Akron. Her mother had been working and her stepfather was taking care of her. Reann was outside playing with her neighbors in the mobile home courtyard but they eventually left to go home, leaving her alone with Metsker. They apparently built a snowman together.
When Reann was discovered missing from her home in Smithville, Ohio, Metsker was the first person to call 911 about the little girl’s whereabouts. When police learned he called about “a little girl, Reann,” they visited his home to arrest him. Metsker became a suspect when it was learned he was the last person to be seen with Reann. Police determined that Reann most likely died the evening of Dec. 14, at Metsker’s mobile home. The coroner reportedly determined the cause of death was strangulation.
Reann’s father, Richard Murphy, spoke through his grief, reportedly saying, “”She’s the best thing that ever happened to me … this is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.” Reann’s parents are separated, and Murphy reportedly said he was supposed to have his daughter with him at his home in Creston that weekend but he wasn’t able to get in touch with Reann’s mother. He last saw his daughter Nov. 29. He apparently said he did not know Metsker.
Murphy was one of the people searching for Reann when she went missing. He was there when her body was recovered from a trash bin, and her body was being taken out. The sight of her dead body was horrifying for Murphy, who reportedly said he hopes no one ever has to go through such a horrible experience in their lives. He reportedly said he had remembered a small moment recently where little Reann had affectionately rubbed Murphy’s head and told him she loved him.
The mobile home park where Reann lived with her mother and stepfather was relatively safe, and neighbors reportedly said they had not seen any serious crimes during their time living there. The Smithville, Ohio, mobile park, however, will be scarred forever, by the tragic death of a little girl.
Last weekend, the mobile home park community held a vigil in Reann’s memory.
A subsequent hearing will be held but a date has not been set.
By Juana Poareo
NewsNet 5 Cleveland