SCOTTSVILLE, Ky. – Pink ribbons and balloons decorate a town saddened by the slaying of a 7-year-old girl, and a sign reads "Justice for Gabbi." But no one is certain Scottsville, a peaceful community of 5,000, will ever be the same.
Kentucky State Police arrested Timothy Madden, 38, of Scottsville, on Friday and charged him with murder, kidnapping, first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy.
The arrest came six days after Gabriella Doolin disappeared during a football game and was found dead less than a half-hour later in a creek. The arrest warrant said she died of manual strangulation and drowning.
"In a small, rural community like ours, you read about those things happening, but you don't ever imagine them happening in your hometown," Allen County Judge-Executive Johnny Hobdy said Friday.
Just before a news conference Friday at the state police post in Bowling Green, Madden was taken in handcuffs to a squad car. A reporter asked if he had anything to say, and Madden replied, "I'm innocent."
Innocent is a word townspeople might have used once to describe Scottsville, a rural town of about 5,000 near the Tennessee state line.
"It's changed everybody's mindset," Chris Carter, who has four children, said of Gabbi's killing. Carter went away to college but returned to raise his family in the quiet community where he grew up.
"Those days are changed," he said. "The real world has come here."
At the Doolins' white-frame home outside Scottsville, several vehicles were parked in the yard Friday afternoon. A trampoline was set up in the backyard, a basketball goal in the front, and a cat and kittens were on the front step. A woman answering the door declined to comment and asked a reporter to leave.
The girl's father had harsh words on his Facebook page posted Friday morning.
"This animal should not be walking and breathing," Brian Doolin wrote.
Madden was being held in the Barren County jail on $1 million bond. State police post commander Capt. John Clark would not release any other details about Madden, citing the ongoing investigation.
The police citation in the case said Madden's DNA collected during the investigation matched that recovered from the child during the autopsy.
Gabbi, as she was called, was reported missing about 7:40 p.m. Saturday by her mother while they were at a football game at Allen County-Scottsville High School in south-central Kentucky. Her body was found about 25 minutes later in a creek in a wooded area behind the school.
The girl was playing with other children during the game, state police Trooper B.J. Eaton said. The creek where her body was found was just a few hundred yards from the football field.
Doolin's funeral was held Thursday at Scottsville Baptist Church. Members of the Scottsville community lined the streets holding pink and blue balloons to release as the hearse carrying her body drove by.
Hobdy said people in Scottsville were mourning with the family.
"This whole community shared in the grief and will for a long time to come," he said.
Carter, whose two boys and two girls range in age from 1 to 16, said he has already changed his approach to parenting and has become more cautious.
"I don't let my kids out anymore without me being right there with them," he said Friday afternoon while picking up one of his daughters from school.
Kathy Saylors, picking up her granddaughter from school Friday afternoon, said she expects more precautions to be taken for children as a result of Gabbi's death. Her 8-year-old grandson rode the school bus with Gabbi and told Saylors he was scared after Gabbi was killed.
"You take things for granted that nothing's going to happen," she said. "But now that it's hit home, it'll be different. Allen County will never be the same."