IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A federal inmate was charged Thursday in the rape and slaying of a 5-year-old northern Iowa girl in 2005, a breakthrough in a case that had long frustrated investigators and relatives.
Casey Frederiksen was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual abuse in the death of the Evelyn Miller, whose body was found along the Cedar River.
"What a glorious afternoon it is today," said Floyd County Sheriff Rick Lynch, thanking residents for patience during the seven-year investigation.
Lynch and investigators announced the charges in Floyd, the northern Iowa town where Evelyn vanished from her family's apartment in the early-morning hours of July 1, 2005. At the time, Frederiksen was engaged to Evelyn's mother and living with them. He was watching the girl and two other young children and claimed he was sleeping when she vanished.
Charis Paulson, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said investigators sought charges against Frederiksen after evidence mounted over the years. She said Frederiksen changed his story regarding what he'd done during that night, disclosed information about the condition of her body that wasn't publicly known and made statements implicating himself to other inmates.
Frederiksen, 33, is incarcerated at a prison in Marion, Ill., with a release date of 2026. He was convicted on child pornography and methamphetamine charges with evidence gathered during the investigation into Evelyn's death.
Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud said he filed paperwork seeking Frederiksen's return to Iowa to face the charges. It was not clear whether Frederiksen had an attorney. He would face life in prison if convicted in Iowa, which does not have the death penalty.
Evelyn's mother reported her missing after returning from an overnight shift as a nurse's aide. Kayakers discovered the girl's body days later two miles away on the banks of the river. Investigators had questioned Frederiksen in the death — giving him immunity to testify about drug activities, but he was never charged.
A police affidavit filed Thursday laying out the case against Frederiksen does not mention whether a murder weapon was discovered.
An autopsy found Evelyn died of sharp force injuries, including wounds to the neck, and that there was evidence of sexual assault. Those details were never released to the public.
The affidavit paints Frederiksen as acting erratically and lying after the girl vanished, being addicted to child pornography involving young girls, and making incriminating statements while in prison. It says FBI dogs picked up Frederiksen's scent near where authorities believe the girl entered the river.
Frederiksen claimed he last saw Evelyn asleep on a loveseat when he woke up to change a boy's diaper at 2 a.m. But as volunteers were searching for Evelyn in coming days, Frederiksen didn't join them and instead went with a friend on a trip to Des Moines and Waterloo, the affidavit says.
While incarcerated, Frederiksen would cry and say, "I'm sorry Evelyn'," one inmate told investigators. Another inmate said that Frederiksen talked about touching the girl's dead body and carrying her to the river. A third said Frederiksen told him he'd molested the girl for years.
Frederiksen claimed to police in 2007 that an acquaintance had taken the girl at knifepoint and never brought her back. He later said that he made up that claim, the affidavit says.
Frederiksen told another inmate the girl was found with her clothes on — a detail not released by investigators. And in 2009, after he was indicted on meth charges, he allegedly told another inmate he could "get away with murder and still do life."
The girl's paternal grandparents, Richard and Linda Christie of Waterloo, said Thursday was the happiest day they've had in seven years and praised investigators for their work. They remembered the girl, who would be 12, as loving to dress in pink, having a beautiful smile, and celebrating Halloween as her favorite holiday.
Richard Christie called the arrest a "bittersweet moment" since Frederiksen had been a friend of their son and they knew him since he was a child, "so it's a tragedy both ways." Linda Christie was less diplomatic.
"He has done hideous things. He raped and murdered my granddaughter. I am not in the mood to forgive someone who could do that to an innocent little girl," she said. "Justice will be done."
She called Evelyn "my pink little fairy princess who lives up in heaven" and said her spirit would guide the family through Frederiksen's trial.
Frederiksen was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2006 after a search of his hard drive turned up 1,650 images of child pornography. Prosecutors said the images included "sadistic and violent sexual abuse of prepubescent girls." During the case, Frederiksen acknowledged assaulting a 6-year-old girl in 1992 when he was 13.
In 2009, prosecutors brought charges of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamines. Frederiksen acknowledged he stole pseudoephedrine pills from his employer, K-Mart, and traded them to an associate to make meth in 2004 and 2005 in exchange for meth. He was sentenced to 10 more years.
Paulson said she believed Frederiksen was solely responsible for Evelyn's death.