Missing Calif. girl found dead; teen reportedly in custody

After more than 24 hours of searching for missing 8-year-old Madyson “Maddy” Middleton in Santa Cruz, the girl was found dead in a shed in a wooded area behind an artist community and housing center on Monday night.

Residents also said a teenager was arrested Monday night in the case, although police have not yet confirmed it.

A hot Sunday afternoon started as any other for Maddy, as she rode on her white Razor Scooter around her home at the Tannery Arts Center artist community.

Twenty-four hours later, a massive search that included at least 200 residents, more than a dozen FBI agents, Santa Cruz police, a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team, a helicopter crew, three K-9 units, an amateur drone camera and hundreds of paper fliers and social media posts failed to turn up Maddy.

She was waiting for a friend to finish a board game so they could play together, and rode the scooter under her friend’s window, her mother said. At 5:07 p.m. a surveillance video shows Maddy riding her scooter near a cluster of metal mailboxes at the base of a red, four-story apartment building at the Tannery.

Then she disappeared.

“I thought she was in the courtyard. I thought she was in the bathroom, checked the art bar, then I started to going to every friend’s house,” said Laura Jordan, Maddy’s 42-year-old mother. Jordan said she got more and more worried. “Maybe she got bored waiting for her play date, maybe she found another friend. But we had no luck.”

Jordan described her daughter as an active, vocal child who would have screamed if a stranger tried to abduct her.

“She’s never gone into the woods, and she knows she’s not supposed to go down to the creek by herself,” said Jordan. “People asked if she hides, and she doesn’t do that.”

The Tannery, an art and work space for about 350 people, backs up against a paved trail and a wooded area with trails to the San Lorenzo River. Residents said they look out for each other and watch each other’s children. Yet Jordan said she fears people who camp illegally and use drugs by the river.

“She (Madyson) knows she’s not to ride around the backs of the buildings because it’s heroin highway,” said Jordan.

Despite media attention Monday from San Francisco Bay Area TV stations to “Good Morning America,” no good leads in the case were generated, Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said Monday afternoon.

Santa Cruz police have said that Madyson’s parents and family have been cooperative with authorities during the search.

According to court records, Dorian Merredith Middleton, Maddy’s stepmother, sought and received a temporary restraining order against Laura Jordan in 2013 after Jordan allegedly “abandoned her daughter with my husband and I several times.”

Dorian Middleton, 44, of Santa Cruz, is married to Maddy’s father, Michel.