IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A registered sex offender kidnapped and shot to death a 10-year-old Iowa girl, his son's half sister, while the two kids were staying overnight with him last summer, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Authorities announced that Henry Dinkins is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in the death of Breasia Terrell, a Davenport girl whose disappearance last July prompted an extensive search and investigation.
An autopsy confirmed that human remains discovered by fishermen in March in a rural area north of Davenport were Breasia.
Dinkins, a 48-year-old who has been in and out of prison throughout his adulthood, had long been the only person that investigators had identified as a person of interest in the case. Breasia was last seen in the early hours of July 10 at a Davenport apartment complex, where she was staying the night with her half brother and his father, Dinkins.
A criminal complaint released Wednesday alleges that Dinkins removed Breasia from the apartment “without consent or authority, or by deception, to secretly confine and inflict serious injury" on her.
"As a result of the kidnapping, (Breasia) was murdered," the complaint said. It added that Dinkins “shot her with a firearm causing her death.”
Scott County Attorney Michael Walton released few additional details during a brief news conference Wednesday, saying only that the case was developed through “an intensive, nine-month investigation involving numerous agencies.” He said that he had to withhold investigative details while his office prosecutes Dinkins.
“While announcing charges is a significant step in this case, it is important to understand that bringing forth charges is not the end of the legal process but just the beginning,” he said.
Detectives with the Davenport Police Department led the investigation and received assistance from the FBI, which announced a $10,000 reward for information in the case in December on what would have been Breasia's 11th birthday.
Investigators had asked anyone with information about Dinkins’ whereabouts on July 9-10 to come forward, publicizing photos of a maroon Chevy Impala and other vehicles associated with him.
Davenport Police Capt. Brent Biggs said Breasia's mother had been “supportive and cooperative” with investigators throughout the case. “We cannot imagine the grief and pain she must experience,” he said.
Biggs also credited several detectives who worked long hours on the case, saying it had been hard on their personal lives. They routinely must look at “the worst of humanity" and carry on, he said.
Dinkins was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse in 1990 when he was 17 for victimizing a female child, according to the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.
He was arrested days after Breasia's disappearance on charges that he violated sex offender registry requirements by failing to tell authorities that he had been living in the apartment with his girlfriend for weeks. Authorities said he also violated the terms of his parole by having contact with minors. He has been jailed in Clinton County while awaiting trial on those charges.
Dinkins was convicted in 2004 of a sex offender registry violation and has a long criminal history that includes multiple offenses for driving while intoxicated and drug possession. A 2009 murder charge against him was dismissed after authorities said he appeared to be a witness rather than a participant in the crime.
Dinkins was served with an arrest warrant on the new charges Wednesday and did not yet have an attorney in the case. A public defender assigned to represent him on other charges didn't immediately return a phone message.