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Girl found buried alive at dump

Mon., May 23, 2005

LAKE WORTH, Fla. – An 8-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted and buried under rocks in a trash bin was found alive Sunday by an officer searching a landfill, authorities said. A teenager was charged with attempted murder.

The girl suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, authorities said. Hospital officials declined to comment on her condition Sunday night.

Milagro Cunningham, 17, who had been staying at the house of the girl’s godmother, was charged with attempted murder, sexual battery on a child under 12 and false imprisonment of a victim under 13 years old, police said. He was charged as an adult.

The girl was found about seven hours after she had been reported missing, but authorities still don’t know how long she had been inside the trash bin. An Amber Alert had been issued early Sunday.

Police Sgt. Mike Hall was scouring the landfill for the girl Sunday morning when he looked inside the trash bin and saw a yellow recycling container with a lid on it. When he opened the lid, he “saw a bunch of rocks, a foot and a hand,” Sgt. Dan Boland said.

Hall then yelled out to see if the child was alive, alerting other officers to the discovery. A police lieutenant saw the girl’s finger move and officers began pulling rocks off her, Boland said.

“It certainly was a miracle that we found this girl alive,” Boland said, adding that the girl was able to talk to authorities after she was removed from the container.

The girl had been staying overnight at her godmother’s house when she disappeared, Boland said. Cunningham had lived there for about four months, but he was not related to the girl, police said.

Cunningham was questioned by police early Sunday after the girl was reported missing and told them she may have been abducted by two men in a station wagon, Boland said. Detectives reinterviewed Cunningham when the girl was found and the teen eventually confessed, Boland said.

It was not immediately known who called authorities to report the girl missing.


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