Utah teen arrested after girl, 12, found dead in field

By Peg McEntee

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Police in Utah arrested a 15-year-old boy suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl whose body was found on Friday in an overgrown field after she was lured from her home.

The West Valley City Police Department said Kayley Vijil left her family's house in the suburb of Salt Lake City at around midnight, apparently with her parents' permission.

It said in a statement that a 15-year-old boy taken into custody as a person of interest in the case is now the sole suspect, and that evidence linked him to the crime scene.

Police department spokeswoman Roxanne Vainuku said the suspect may have tried something similar in the past.

"There was some sort of dialogue that enticed her to come outside of her home," Vainuku said.

"We have at least one other incident that appears to be the same individual, using the same dialogue, to attempt to get an 11-year-old girl to come out, but her parents intervened."

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo said earlier that when the girl failed to return home, her mother began searching for her. She approached two officers at a 7-Eleven store at 1:30 a.m. and told them her daughter had been missing for 90 minutes.

Officers organized a search and used cell phone technology to narrow the area, the police department said. Vigil's body was discovered in a field of 3- to 4-foot high grass, shrubs and trees behind a row of homes, it said.

Police declined to say how she died but said there was no evidence to suggest she died of a stab wound or gunshot. They said there was no evidence the suspect and the girl communicated by telephone or text message, and that they only spoke at the door of the family's home.

Asked if the parents would face consequences for letting her leave with a stranger, Russo said they would not.

"This isn't about parenting," he said. "What we're investigating is the death of a 12-year-old girl, and we need to stay focused on that."

(Additional reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Sandra Maler)