WAYNE COUNTY, Ohio--The Wayne County Sheriff's Office said Monday night that preliminary autopsy results from the Wayne County coroner show that Reann Murphy died as a result of strangulation.
The nine-year-old girl's body was discovered in a dumpster near her home.
Jerrod Metsker, 24, is being held in the Wayne County jail on a $1 million bond. He is charged with aggravated murder, accused of killing the child.
"She didn't deserve to die, but she didn't deserve to be in a trash can because she's far from trash," said Reann's father, Richard Murphy, Jr.
Murphy attended the first court appearance for Metsker, held Monday morning at Wayne County Municipal Court in Wooster.
Metsker is accused of killing Reann sometime Saturday night and putting her body in a dumpster just yards from her home in the Wayne County town of Smithville.
"I just want you to know Reann, I love you with all my heart and I miss you so much," Murphy told reporters outside of the courtroom.
According to investigators, Reann was last seen around 5:30 Saturday afternoon, playing in the mobile home community's courtyard, with Metsker, and other children.
"They were out here playing. My kids were out here playing with him as well. My kids went inside. My daughter had brought a cookie out to Reann and Reann wanted the rest of the kids to come out and they said they were cold and that's the last time that we heard from her," said neighbor Sheri Rose.
Reann's family and neighbors searched for her for hours. In fact, Metsker is the person who called 9-1-1.
DISPATCHER: "911 do you have an emergency?"
METSKER: “Yes, we have a missing person at Akron Road, the trailer park in Smithville, Ohio. Everybody's out searching for her and we can't find her."
Neighbors say around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, a sheriff's deputy discovered her body in the dumpster.
"I watched them take my daughter out of the trash can. She's just a wonderful person. I don't see how anybody could want to hurt her. She's very beautiful," said Reann’s father.
Neighbor, Sheri Rose, said Metsker has lived in the neighborhood with his mother for a couple years and never considered him a threat.
"His mom was gone and he had come over to our house to borrow a tool from my husband and was very skittish and said he was home alone and that was trouble, and I thought it was a joke," Rose said.
Metsker is due back in court on Dec. 23.
Reann was a second-grader at Smithville Elementary School. The district issued a statement, saying they spoke to students as a group Monday morning, and that counselors and pastors will be on hand to help students cope all week.
A memorial that includes stuffed animals and flowers has also begun to grow near the flagpole in front of the school.
Houses in several small communities from Smithville to Apple Creek have begun stringing green Christmas lights in honor of the little girl.
A memorial fund has been established in Reann's name at First Merit Bank to help out with the sudden and unexpected funeral and burial costs.
It was created by a total stranger who saw the news reports and was compelled to help out.