Florida girl found buried alive in landfill

Sunday, May 22, 2005
VIDEO
(CNN) — Police found an 8-year-old Florida girl buried alive with minor
injuries in an abandoned landfill Sunday morning, hours after she was
reported abducted, according to officials in Lake Worth.

Authorities have detained a suspect, identified as 17-year-old Milagro
Cunningham, whom they said the girl identified as her attacker.

Searchers found the girl inside a yellow recycling bin, which was inside
a 30-foot dumpster.

“There was a yellow recycling bin, and the lid was flipped open,” said
Lake Worth Police Sgt. Mike Hall. “And inside the dumpster was a pile of
rocks, boulders. And you could see a hand in there.”

The girl was taken to a hospital, Police Chief William Smith said.

The suspect will be charged as an adult, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman
for the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office.

Cunningham will face charges of attempted murder, sexual battery on a
child under 12 and false imprisonment of a victim under 13.

He could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.

Lake Worth police spokesman Sgt. Dan Boland said Cunningham confessed to
all three charges.

The suspect will make his first court appearance Monday and is being held
until then at the Juvenile Assessment Center in West Palm Beach, Boland
said.

Smith said the suspect and the girl had been staying at the home of the
girl’s godmother, and the girl had been there for only a short time.

Cunningham called in a false abduction report before 4 a.m. ET,
describing the girl’s alleged abductors and the car they supposedly
drove, Smith said.

“That is bogus,” Smith said. “It did not occur.”

“We believe it was a sexual assault and possible attempted murder,” FBI
Special Agent Mike Driscoll said.

Because investigators saw inconsistencies in Cunningham’s story, they
kept him close at hand.

Smith said it was clear from where the girl was found — and how — that
her attacker did not expect her to survive.

“The suspect began as a person of interest, and now he is being charged
with this crime,” Driscoll said. “He intended to leave her there, and she
wasn’t going to get out of the situation.”

Lake Worth is just south of West Palm Beach and about 70 miles north of
Miami.

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