September 23, 1997 in Nation/World

Teen Held In Death Of Baby Sitter Suspect, 17, Had Run Away From Halfway House

Audra Ang Associated Press

A teenage boy who recently fled from a halfway house was held Monday in the death of a 12-year-old girl savagely beaten while baby-sitting five children at a neighbor’s home.

“She was like a flower, and it’s like somebody stomped on her,” John Stephen Jones, the girl’s father, told The Seattle Times. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. She didn’t deserve to die.”

Ashley Jones was tending the children at a house in her subdivision late Saturday when she was beaten unconscious, apparently during a burglary, said Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Jorgensen. The five children she was tending, ranging in age from 2 to 8, were asleep and not harmed.

David Dodge, 17, of nearby Camano Island, was arrested Sunday night on a fugitive warrant after escaping Friday from a halfway house in Lynnwood, about 30 miles to the south. Police said Dodge, who had been serving time for theft, was arrested at a friend’s apartment in Stanwood, about 40 miles north of Seattle.

Dodge was being held as an adult in the county jail for investigation of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree burglary. He appeared Monday before Everett District Judge Roger Fisher, who set bail at $1 million. County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Jim Townsend said he expected to file formal charges today or Wednesday.

Dodge, dressed in blue jail sweats, did not say anything at the brief hearing.

“We are confident we have the person who did this and the only person who did this,” Lt. David Bales, Stanwood’s interim police chief, told a standing-room-only community meeting of some 500 residents Monday night.

Jorgensen said Ashley apparently did not know her attacker, and there were no signs of forced entry or theft at the home.

“He walked through an unlocked door,” Jorgensen said. “Normally it’s kept locked. I don’t know what happened.”

Police on Sunday combed Stanwood, a rural town of about 2,000, for clues leading to Ashley’s killer. Residents of at least 150 homes were interviewed, Jorgensen said.

“We went from having a vague description of a male in white clothing to having enough information to identify the youth,” she said.

Ashley, a seventh-grader at Stanwood Middle School, had been watching the children at a neighbor’s residence in the east end of town Saturday night, Jorgensen said.

She was found unconscious when the adults returned home about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. The children were asleep and uninjured, but the girl was “very, very brutally beaten,” Jorgensen said.

An autopsy Monday determined she died of injuries to the head by a blunt instrument, the county medical examiner’s office said.

Ashley was taken by ambulance to Skagit Valley Hospital before being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

A nursing supervisor said the girl was on life support from the time she arrived at Harborview and was pronounced dead at 2:37 p.m. Sunday.

The girl was not hurt when she talked to her mother by phone around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jorgensen said.

“There appeared to be no problems at that time,” she said.

The slaying was the first in Stanwood since the early 1980s, Stanwood police Sgt. Bill Vasand said.

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