More details emerge about 3-year-old's disappearance

Published: Aug. 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2011 at 11:17 PM CDT
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Breeann Rodriguez
Breeann Rodriguez
Breeann and her parents
Breeann and her parents
Search crews look for Breeann's body on Monday.
Search crews look for Breeann's body on Monday.
Shawn Morgan (Source: Dunklin County Sheriff's Office)
Shawn Morgan (Source: Dunklin County Sheriff's Office)

SENATH, MO (KFVS) - Police have released more details in the death of missing 3-year-old Breeann Rodriguez.

Shawn Morgan, 43, from Senath is charged with 1st degree murder, according to Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff.

Morgan has also been charged with armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence.

According to the probable cause statement, Morgan admitted to grabbing Breeann and carrying her inside his house as she stood on the ladder at the pool in his backyard on August 6, the day she went missing.

Morgan lives on the same street as the Rodriguez family.

According to the probable cause statement, Morgan suffocated the girl using a white plastic trash bag.  He told police "he felt like it took an hour for the girl to die."

Morgan told police he put the her body in the same trash bag, drove to the floodway ditches of Hwy. 164 and threw her over the railing.

When he came back to his house, he took apart her bicycle and threw it in the same river system, according to court documents.

The lingering question: Why? Authorities say they can't release details about a motive at this time.

"We just want to bring this guy to justice," said Dunklin County Sheriff Bob Holder. "I hope the community would understand that. We have a job to do and we can't jeopardize this case."

Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Sokoloff says they also can't discuss what lead them to Morgan.

"It would be inappropriate to discuss evidence and other matters at this time," said Sokoloff.

Meanwhile, friends and neighbors say they are shocked to learn Morgan is a suspect.

Marty Miller says he and Morgan drove around looking for Breeann right after she disappeared.

"I keep thinking he was right there in the truck with me," said Miller. "All the kids play together out here. Shawn's got a good wife and three little kids. I feel horrible for both families. I guess it just goes to show anything can happen. You never really know."

Miller says Shawn's wife, Tonya and their children were out of town that Saturday when Breeann disappeared, and Morgan says he suffocated her.

"Tonya and the oldest were out of town and the other two were with his sister," said Miller. "I've known Shawn for thirty years. I watched him grown up."

Crews continued searching for Breeann's body Monday.  Officials from across Missouri searched the water by boat and divers for the missing toddler on Sunday.

"We'll keep searching as long as it takes," said Sheriff Holder.

Her bicycle was found in the river system and identified by her father.

Investigators say Morgan is not related to the family.  He was being held at the Dunklin County Justice Center without bond.

Arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Kennett.

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