Man accused of 3-year-old's murder appears in court

Morgan was walked to the courthouse in a bullet-proof vest, heavily guarded by police.
Morgan was walked to the courthouse in a bullet-proof vest, heavily guarded by police.
Police walked Morgan to a police vehicle.
Police walked Morgan to a police vehicle.
Breeann Rodriguez
Breeann Rodriguez

KENNETT, MO (KFVS) - The man charged with the murder of a missing 3-year-old Senath girl appeared in court Tuesday morning in Kennett.

Shawn Morgan, 43, from Senath is charged with 1st degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence in the disappearance of Breeann Rodriguez.

Breeann has been missing since August 6.

A crowd of family and media was there as police brought Morgan to the courthouse in a bullet-proof vest.

"Everything went pretty smooth," said Sheriff Bob Holder. "But we know this is an emotional case."

Family and friends held signs reading "Justice for Breeann."

"We wanted to do that because we still don't have answers," said Alex Morano, a relative. "One way or the other we want Breeann back. We still don't have her."

Breeann's parents were in the courtroom when Morgan appeared before a judge.  They held each other and kept their eyes on Morgan.

Morgan lives on the same street as the Rodriguez family.

"It's hard to watch him walk in with all that protection," Breeann's mother, Claudia told Heartland News after the arraignment. "Where was Breeann's protection?"

She says they didn't know Morgan well, but never suspected anything like this could happen.

"All the kids play together. He has three kids. It's a great neighborhood. We all just want to know why," said Claudia.

Edgar Rodriguez, Breeann's father says they won't hold a memorial service for Breeann until her body is found.

"We still cling to a little bit of hope," said Edgar. "It's hard and we want to know why. We are peaceful people. We never had any enemies."

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 the day she went missing.

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.

"We just want answers and we can't get them," said Breeann's aunt, Brenda Ramos after seeing Morgan in Court. "We all know he has kids. Why would he do this to his family and ours? We never suspected there was a predator, a murderer in our street."

Tuesday, authorities told Heartland News they still could not respond to questions regarding a possible motive, or what lead them to interview Morgan about Breeann's disappearance.

Meanwhile, authorities say they will continue to search for her body. Her bicycle was found in the river system and identified by her father.

Crews have spent the past few days searching the river system. Sheriff Bob Holder says crews will search the same area of the "Hornersville Swamp" by foot in the woods.

"We still need help from the public. We want her found," said Senath Chief of Police, Omar Karnes. "We welcome any tips or information."

Meanwhile family members say they only have good memories of Breeann, no matter how difficult it appears her last hours were.

"I want everyone to remember her like the little girl that's always friendly, always happy," said Morano. "She loved to be called princess."

"Just remember her like the happy, healthy, baby she was," said Brenda Ramos.

Morgan's next court date will by August 30.

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