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Caregiver charged in case of missing girl

Sept. 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Florida prosecutors plan to bring first-degree murder and other charges against the former caregiver of a 4-year-old girl who has been missing since 2000.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday nobody knows whether foster child Rilya Wilson is alive or dead.

"In a homicide case, generally there is a body, and there is not one here," said Scott Sakin, an attorney representing caregiver Geralyn Graham.

The Florida Department of Children & Families did not learn Rilya was missing until 2002, and her disappearance and the fact it wasn't discovered until then led to major changes in the state's child welfare system, the Sun Sentinel said.

Graham, 65, has denied harming Rilya and told investigators she last saw her in January 2001 when a woman who said she was from the DCF took her for a medical exam.

A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted Graham in March 2005 on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse.

At the time, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty but have since decided to seek life in prison instead.

When Graham was indicted, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, she had told someone in jail she had smothered Rilya with a pillowcase because the child insisted on wearing an "evil" Cleopatra costume instead of an angel costume for Halloween.

Graham was arrested on unrelated charges and convicted of using a friend's Social Security number to buy a sport utility vehicle. She has been in jail since.

The trial is scheduled to start Oct. 11.

Topics: Halloween
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