New York Girl, 11, Smothered to Death During Alleged Rape: Reports

Two men have been accused of murdering an 11-year-old girl last week in central New York while she was being raped, multiple news outlets report.

Thirty-four-year-old Tobias Rundstrom-Wooding appeared in court on Monday in New York’s Chenango County on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of Jacelyn O’Connor, according to the Associated Press, the Press & Sun Bulletin and local TV station WTEN.

Rundstrom-Wooding is the second suspect arrested in O’Connor’s death: On Thursday, 36-year-old James R. Brower was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge in Chenango County in what New York State Police suspect was a brutal rape that resulted in the girl being smothered to death.

Brower reportedly entered a plea of not guilty and was held without bail. It is unclear if Rundstrom-Wooding, who is also held without bail, has entered a plea.

Neither man’s attorney could immediately be reached for comment. Rundstrom-Wooding’s lawyer told the AP his client “intends to fight this to the end.”

Officials with the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the arrests to PEOPLE but were not immediately able to provide further comment.

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Investigators reportedly said O’Connor was found dead in the men’s home in Norwich, New York, early on Sunday after authorities responded to a report that the girl was in cardiac arrest.

Prosecutors said Brower was connected to O’Connor through family, the AP reports: She was the half-sibling of his two sons and had been staying with him.

According to the felony complaint against him, Brower allegedly killed O’Connor while committing a first-degree rape. Citing an autopsy report, officials said in court that O’Connor was asphyxiated “due to smothering,” according to the Press & Sun Bulletin.

Both suspects remain in custody at the Chenango County jail, authorities tell PEOPLE.

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night at the school where O’Connor attended.

She “was a bright, spunky loved student at Morris Central School,” the school wrote on its Facebook page. “We are all deeply saddened by this loss. It is a tragedy that is difficult to comprehend for us all.”

from PEOPLE.com http://people.com/crime/two-men-arrested-new-york-girl-rape-murder/

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