SALT LAKE CITY – Neighbors and friends gathered outside the home of 5-year-old Destiny Norton and asked how the girl's body could have gone undiscovered when it was so near.
Police Chief Chris Burbank said the body of the child missing since July 16 was found at 8:30 p.m. Monday in the basement of Craig R. Gregerson, 20, whose property abutted the back yard of the Nortons.
"All I know is the cops searched the whole freaking area and didn't find nothing until today," said Zach Willner, one of the 10 young people, including the Nortons, who lived together. "The person who got her had better freaking pay for it."
Jeannie Norton, a friend of the family for 10 years, said police had said they searched the buildings four times.
"They did not do their jobs," she said.
About midnight, Burbank showed up and told the angry crowd, "Until this moment, there was no crime scene. No specific evidence. Police had nothing. This is not the proper way to honor Destiny. All we can do is keep this from happening again," the Deseret Morning News reported.
Burbank earlier had announced the discovery of the body and told a news conference that Gregerson had been booked for investigation of homicide. He did not answer questions, and no information was released as to the cause of death or how long the girl had been dead.
Police did release a mug shot of Gregerson that was taken when he was arrested in 2004 for investigation of domestic assault. It was not immediately known how the case was resolved and there were no other records of Gregerson having been arrested.
However, The Salt Lake Tribune said that court documents showed that Gregerson had sought a protective order against a woman with the same last name in February and the following month, a judge terminated the order.
Earlier Monday, police had issued a sketch of a man seen driving a black Dodge pickup with a girl who looked like 5-year-old Destiny Norton.
Burbank said that the leads on Gregerson and on the man in the pickup had developed at the same time, and police officials decided to go ahead with the release of the sketch.
Members of the Norton household said previously that the Sunday night Destiny disappeared, she had just taken a bath, asked to be allowed to go out in the back yard, which has a chain-link fence and gate. They said she vanished in the five or 10 minutes before her father went to check on her.
Hundreds of people helped in daily searches, including 700 on Saturday, but the numbers often were much smaller, and some speculated that the family's lower economic status and lifestyle may have been to blame for turnouts smaller than in other recent cases.
The searches drew support from the families of Elizabeth Smart and other high-profile missing persons, and a $30,000 reward was offered for information leading to a resolution of the case.