A teenage boy accused of breaking into a North Philadelphia home last month and abducting, sexually assaulting and beating a 5-year-old girl unconscious is now in custody.
The 15-year-old boy was arrested Monday night. The teen, who police say is known to frequent the neighborhood where the incident occurred, faces several charges including attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
The teen was processed and taken to 25th District headquarters to be held overnight. He'll eventually be transferred to the Youth Study Center at 48th and Haverford.
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Police have not released his identity and the District Attorney is trying to determine whether he'll be charged as an adult.
Vyneeka Hopkins, 29, the little girl's mother, told NBC10 that she woke up about 7 a.m. on July 28 and discovered that the younger of her two daughters was missing. The single mom and her 9-year-old daughter frantically searched the house for the little girl before enlisting the help of neighbors to check the rest of the family's block on Hutchinson Street near Lehigh Avenue.
"I called neighbors to search my house one more time to make sure I'm not crazy [not being able to find her inside]," Hopkins explained. "One neighbor was upstairs and looked out the window ... down in the yard that's overgrown with weeds, and was screaming, 'I found her! I found her!'"
Hopkins rushed out the back door and found a devastating sight: The little girl, still wearing the same T-shirt she'd worn to bed the night before, was lying unconscious among the weeds, covered in blood.
"I thought she was dead. I was just crying and screaming," Hopkins said.
When Hopkins picked up the little girl, she began to wake up and told her mother -- and later investigators -- that she had awoken early in the morning and stepped out of the bedroom, when she was confronted by a man in the family's hallway. The man grabbed her, the little girl told them, picked her up and took her outside, where he badly beat her and left her to die.
"It's about as bad as it gets," Philadelphia Police Captain John Darby said. "We're looking at this as a stranger residential intrusion and child abduction, and an aggravated assault on that child."
The little girl suffered a broken jaw, fractures to her skull and a bruised liver, among other injuries, in the beating, the mother said. In photos provided to NBC10 of the little girl's injuries, her eyes are swollen shut, and cuts and bruises cover her face and shoulder. Investigators also said the girl had injuries which indicated she was sexually assaulted during the attack.
The mother said one of her daughter's bruises is in the shape of a man's boot.
"None of [her injuries], thank God, led to any internal brain damage or bleeding," the mother, who described her little girl as a fighter, said. "Both of her eyes are swollen shut. She can't even open her eyes right now, but she's in good spirits. She has to do a strictly liquid diet for the next six weeks."
Crime-scene investigators who combed the house for clues found that a dining-room window had been forced open, and that a screen in a back window also appeared to be broken, Hopkins said. Police have theorized that the little girl may have interrupted a burglar, who then beat her.
The mother said the brother of a neighbor on a nearby block was taken in for questioning when his sister turned him over to police and said she'd recently kicked him out of her house for drug use. Police have not yet revealed whether the brother is the same person they arrested Monday.
Monday night Hopkins told NBC10 she's relieved police made an arrest and that her daughter is healing with the support of her family and friends.
"She's so resilient and she's not letting what happened affect her so negatively to where it stops her life," Hopkins said.