17-year-old raped and choked cousin, 9, to death, stomped on her chest and dumped her body in drain
A New Mexico court has heard how a teen allegedly killed and raped his nine-year-old cousin before dumping her body in a dry creek. 17-year-old Jeremiah Morfin was already facing a first-degree murder allegation and had the sexual assault charge added during a hearing in Albuquerque on Wednesday, December 16, The Sun reported.
Morfin was 15 years old when he allegedly raped, beat, and strangled his cousin Aaliyah to death at a sleepover. The alleged murderer, who later dumped Aaliyah's corpse in a storm drain, is being tried as an adult over the claims. Addressing the preliminary hearing, prosecutor Imad Award revealed that the young girl had also sustained internal injuries after Morfin stomped on her chest. "The state has alleged and has put forth sufficient information, at least at the probable cause stage, that the defendant committed the act of sexual penetration and the act of murder," Judge Daniel Gallegos said, explaining the decision to add the sexual assault charge to Morfin's indictment.
According to police and court documents, Morfin doesn't have a prior criminal history. The investigation reportedly began when Morfin's mother dialed 911 to report that her niece was missing from the home. She told authorities that the young girl had been staying for a sleepover and that her son was acting strangely. Going into detail, Morfin's mother told investigators that she saw the back door of her house open, the front door locked, and that her son was cleaning his room and doing laundry. However, she soon realized that her niece was nowhere to be found and so she left the home and started driving around looking for the missing girl. She told an Albuquerque police officer that when she returned home, she was greeted with a note from her son.
Jeremiah, per court documents, indicated in the note that he was angry and had killed his cousin. The teen later told an officer that he "kind of lost it" and "I did something bad." When the officer asked where Aaliyah was, Morfin led APD officers to an arroyo less than half a mile from the home in the area of Silver Tree Drive and Blake Southwest, where they discovered the girl's lifeless body partly clothed and wrapped in a blanket. According to investigators, the nine-year-old died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
In January 2019, Morfin was indicted on murder and child abuse charges. And while police had previously stated that the girl may also have been sexually assaulted, Morfin was not initially charged with sex crimes. An Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman said Aaliyah was a fourth-grader at Edward Gonzales Elementary School, which is close to the neighborhood where the Morfin's live. School officials sent a letter to parents of students, addressing the tragedy. "It is with deep regret that we inform you about the recent loss of one of our students," the principal said in the letter. "This tragic loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students."