A 15-year-old boy will be charged as an adult in the grisly killing of his 8-year-old neighbor in California. Adrian Jerry Gonzalez could face life in prison if convicted of Madyson Middleton’s murder.
On the night of July 26, Maddy, as she was affectionately known, went missing from the Tannery Arts Center, the housing complex where she and the suspect in Santa Cruz. Just over 24 hours later, she was found dead inside a dumpster. Santa Cruz’s District Attorney said the suspect went to “great lengths” to conceal the body. Police believe Middleton had been killed before cops ever got a call that she was missing.
The Tannery Arts Center is a non-profit public facility with around 100 affordable lofts, there are around 250 residents, 50 of whom are children. Those kids are often seen playing in the center’s common areas.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He’s Accused of Raping, Strangling & Stabbing 8-Year-Old Maddy Middleton
Gonzalez faces charges of murder, special circumstances involving sexual assault, lying-in-wait and kidnapping. He will be arraigned on July 31 and could face life in prison if convicted. During the announcement that Gonzalez would be charged as an adult, Santa Cruz DA Jeffrey Rosell didn’t mention a motive, saying “People do things for lots of reasons. Sometimes we understand them. Sometimes we don’t.” KRON 4 reports that Gonzalez is accused of duct-taping Middleton, raping her, and then strangling and stabbing her to death. DA Rossell said, “We’re confident in the charges we filed and that’s what justice demands.” NBC Bay Area reports that though he’s being charged as an adult, Gonzalez is being held in a juvenile facility.
2. While the Search for Middleton Went on Around Him, Gonzalez Spun His Yo-Yo & ‘Obsessively’ Asked for Updates
During the search for Middleton, which involved FBI agents, Gonzalez spun a yo-yo and asked searchers if there were any updates, according to KTVU’s Janine De La Vega.
The San Jose Mercury’s Robert Salonga says Gonzalez asked for these updates “obsessively.”
On his now-deleted Instagram page, Gonzalez went by the handles “Awkward Adrian” and “Awkward YoYoer.” He writes in the description, “I’m a fifteen year old yoyoer. That lives in Santa Cruz.” The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that on the day Middleton was killed, Gonzalez posted a pic on his page of fingers playing the piano above the caption, “The Dreams in which I’m Dying are the Best I’ve ever had” — a lyric from the song “Mad World.”
3. He Tried to Flee the Apartment Complex When Middleton’s Body Was Found
Shortly after Middleton was found, Gonzalez tried to run away from the scene and was arrested. When he was taken into custody, authorities announced that there was enough evidence to charge the 15-year-old. KRON 4 reports that Gonzalez told authorities that he thought about committing suicide while the search for Middleton was ongoing around his apartment complex. NBC Bay Area reports that as Gonzalez was being led away, a woman who appeared to be his mother wailed loudly.
4. Police Say Middleton Went Into Gonzalez’s Apartment Because She Trusted Him
Gonzalez is known to the Middleton family. Authorities say she was lured into his apartment because she trusted the suspect. Artist Kirby Scudder, Middleton’s mother’s boyfriend, told KTVU that around 50 children live in the Tannery Arts Complex. He described the suspect as a “soft-spoken, admired, well-liked and well-rounded teenager.” The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Gonzalez is a student at Santa Cruz High School.
5. Santa Cruz’s DA Says He’s Never Had a Case Like This
In an emotional press conference, Santa Cruz District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said he couldn’t remember a case like this during his career, with suspect so young accused of such horrific crimes. And he’s no stranger to disturbing cases. According to his official profile, Rosell has “prosecuted high profile jury trials for murder, child molestation, adult sexual assaults and gang crimes. He also supervised the sexual assault, special prosecution, and general felony units in the office.”