Published April 20, 2005
TAMPA, Fla. – A 9-year-old girl was raped, bound and buried alive, kneeling and clutching a purple stuffed dolphin, state prosecutors said in documents released Wednesday.
Jessica Lunsford's (search) body was found March 19 buried about 150 yards from her house in Homosassa, about 60 miles north of Tampa.
According to the documents, Jessica was found wearing shorts and a shirt — different from the pink nightgown her family said she was wearing when they reported her missing Feb. 24, The Tampa Tribune said in its online edition late Wednesday.
The body was wrapped in two plastic trash bags knotted at her head and feet in a grave covered by a mound of leaves, the state attorney's office said in the documents.
Jessica died of asphyxiation, according to a coroner's report. A convicted sex offender,John Evander Couey (search), 46, is charged in her slaying.
Officials said they believe Jessica may have been alive in Couey's home while police and volunteers searched for her. After she was killed, Couey fled to Georgia.
A message left for Couey's attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday evening.