crimesider

Juvenile suspect charged in rape, murder of 11-year-old girl

A 14-year-old male suspect was arrested and charged with last September's rape and murder of McKenzie Sessoms, 11, in Salemburg, N.C.

CBS affiliate WRAL

CLINTON, N.C. - A juvenile has been charged in the murder and rape of an 11-year-old girl, reports CBS affiliate WRAL.

The male suspect was arrested Tuesday night and is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape, according to Sheriff Jimmy Thornton. The arrest comes after an 8-month investigation into the death of McKenzie Sessoms, who was found unresponsive in her living room by her father on Sept. 6, 2013, in Salemburg, N.C., the station reports.

While Thornton did not provide any details about the juvenile, family members of the suspect identified him as a 14-year-old freshman at Lakewood High School in nearby Roseboro, according to WRAL. The boy's name is being withheld due to his age.

Thornton said the arrest was made after investigators sorted through a suspect pool of over a dozen people, the station reports. He said he does not expect any more changes in the case.

It is unclear how Sessoms and the suspect might have known one another. An autopsy report from November found that the victim had been sexually assaulted and suffocated, WRAL reports.

According to the report, the victim's brother had a "rowdy gathering" of friends outside of the family's home on the night of Sept. 5, and that her other brother had to quiet the group around midnight.

Cathy Starke, Sessoms' grandmother, said the entire situation has been a nightmare. "She was an 11-year-old child. She wanted to be a nurse or a teacher. She had her whole life to make that plan."