TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP/WOOD) - A body found in a sand pile at a public works site in Traverse City is that of a 16-year-old girl who went missing in early June, and a teenage boy has admitted to her killing, police said Wednesday.
The body of Carly Lewis was taken to a Grand Rapids hospital for an autopsy set for Thursday, Police Capt. Brian Heffner told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
It was found Tuesday evening outside a public works building after police said a 17-year-old boy told investigators he killed her.
The teen was later identified as Robert Jensen Schwander, of Traverse City, and he is the son of a Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputy. He was arraigned Thursday on a first-degree murder charge. He's charged as an adult. He entered a not guilty plea. Bond was denied.
Lewis was last seen June 2 while on her way to meet Schwander, police said.
She had exchanged Facebook messages with the suspect the day she vanished, and was supposed to meet him at a market about 6 p.m., the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
Heffner said investigators believe Lewis, a student at Traverse City High School, died the evening she disappeared, and that no one else was involved. He told the paper on Wednesday that investigators believe the boy killed her in a small, vacant metal building, and that he moved her body to the sand pile two days later.
Relatives said Lewis knew him well.
"It's mixed emotions," said Susie Ooley-Lewis, Carly's mother. "It was a boy I cared about and brought in my home, and I feel for him. I think he needed help and didn't get it. I don't … but I'm very angry it went down the way it did."
Family and friends embraced Ooley-Lewis outside her home. She said she took some relief from the knowledge that her daughter likely died the same night she disappeared.
"This is the only good thing that she didn't suffer for all these days," she said.
Schwander's lawyer said his client called the incident an "accident." The teen agreed to a polygraph examination at a Michigan State Police facility in Grayling.
Attorney Clarence Gomery told The AP the teen is "distraught," and assisted police in recovering Lewis' body.
"Hearing that he did that to her, I was like, oh my God," said Samantha Knudsen, Schwander's ex-girlfriend. "That could have been me. That's crazy to think that."
Gomery expects the charges to be authorized by the prosecutor Wednesday.
The sheriff's department released a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"This tragic event has taken from this community a family member and friend of many people. This is especially difficult for the sheriff's office because of the relationship of the suspect in this incident with one of our officers and because of the business we are in."
Schwander's father, the deputy, is on paid leave.
Lewis' disappearance sparked a search that reached to communities around the northern Lower Peninsula city. She was considered missing and endangered. Lewis would have turned 17 on Wednesday.
Heffner said it's the second killing in Traverse City this year.
A moment of silence was held during an informal gathering Wednesday night at a place called the open space, in Traverse City. Hundreds of community members gathered from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Flowers and stuffed animals hang from the gate on the public works property.
"(I'm) just sad, I guess, that it happened," said Emily Overmyer, who didn't know Carly but came anyway to pay her respects.
And Lewis' brother had one last message for his little sister.
"You're beautiful," Mitchell Lewis said. "You're a gem so full of life. I love you. If you were here right now, I'd give you the biggest kiss and hug you'd have in your life."
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