FL Girl's Body Found

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

John Evander Couey, a registered sex offender in the Florida county where Jessica Lunsford disappeared three weeks ago, confessed to killing the girl after a lie-detector test Friday, Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said.

Initially sought as a "person of interest" in Jessica's disappearance, Couey had been arrested Thursday in Augusta, Georgia, for failing to notify authorities he had moved -- a violation of his probation.

Police said Saturday they found the remains of Jessica where Couey had told them he buried the girl -- behind his sister's house about 150 yards from the Lunsfords' home.

The girl's body was taken to Leesburg, Florida, for an autopsy, authorities said.

Dawsy called Couey, who had been arrested 24 times in the past 30 years, "a piece of trash" and said he wants to see him "get the death penalty."

Four other people associated with the residence where Couey had been staying were arrested on charges unrelated to the girl's death -- three for failing to notify authorities that Couey was at the home though they knew he was wanted by authorities -- Dawsy said. The other was detained for nonpayment of child support, the sheriff said.

The four people arrested at the residence were identified by police as Gene Secord, 35, on the child support charges; and Madie Dixon Secord, 27, Dorothy Marie Dixon, 47, and Matthew Dittrich, 31, on obstruction of justice charges.

Investigators have found no evidence any of the four were involved in Jessica's death and burial, he said.

Jessica's distraught father said earlier Saturday that his daughter is "home now."

"Everyone heard me say time after time that she would be home," said Mark Lunsford, choking back tears. "Well, she's home now. It's over...She's right here with me."

Lunsford said he wanted to tell all parents to "make sure you get that hug and kiss every day before you leave the house."


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