(Mississippi County, AR) A 17-year-old male has confessed to the murder of an 11-year-old girl.
The body of Jessica Williams was found in a ditch near Gosnell, Ark., Wednesday morning.
Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook says 17-year-old Christopher Sowell is charged with first-degree murder.
Sowell was arrested late Wednesday night and is being held on a $2 million bond.
Prosecutors said Sowell, who remained silent in court, told police Jessica was talking to him and made him angry.
Sowell said he pushed Jessica, she fell, then said she was going to tell her father what happened.
Sowell said he got scared and choked her until “She got wide eyed.”
He said he then pushed her over the side of the bridge, into the water, and walked away.
Sowell lived just a quarter-mile up County Road 503 from the girl’s mobile home. He and Jessica rode together to school each day on the bus.
Jessica’s father, Eric, called police Tuesday night, after a neighbor found the missing girl’s bike in the road.
“I knew something wasn’t right then. I went and picked up her bike and went to check.”
Jessica’s father was told Wednesday night a suspect had been arrested, but didn’t know until Thursday morning it was Sowell, a person who had been to the Williams’ mobile home before.
“Oh yeah, least summer he’d come down and help me clean the pool out. And just seemed like a normal kid.”
On County Road 503, there was outrage over the girl’s death and what the confessed killer told investigators.
At the school in Gosnell where Jessica was a student, her classmates were first told early Wednesday she was missing.
But Bonard Mace, superintendent of the Gosnell School District, said that changed within an hour.
“And we come back an hour later and explained that she was found. And like I said, the news wasn’t as good as we would have liked it to have been. The students were shocked and saddened.”
Grief counselors were at the school all day helping students cope with the news of Jessica’s death.
Prosecutors say the charge against Sowell could change after Jessica’s autopsy report comes back with an exact time and cause of death.