BERLIN, N.H. – The stepfather of an 11-year-old girl killed nearly five years ago was scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday on a murder charge in her death.
Wendell Noyes, 52, was arrested Monday on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Celina Cass. The girl, last seen at her home computer, was reported missing July 26, 2011. That led to an intense search that attracted federal, state and local law enforcement officers to the tiny North Country town a mile from the Canadian border.
Celina's body was recovered from the Connecticut River six days later. Noyes is accused of killing Cass by submerging her body in the river.
Her mother, Louisia Cass, said she long suspected her ex-husband was involved and hopes he "rots so bad."
She told WMUR-TV that she doesn't understand why anyone would take her baby girl. She divorced Noyes after nine months of marriage and said she yearned for closure that only an arrest could bring.
"I could hear her saying, 'Mommy, don't give up on me,'" she said.
In 2011, Noyes said he had nothing to do with Celina's disappearance and death. He was deemed unfit to stand trial in a 2003 case in which he was charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend's home and threatening her.
A phone number listed for Noyes was disconnected. A message was left with public defender Martha Hornick, who represented him in previous, unrelated cases.
Prosecutors have not said what led them to charge Noyes, of Stewartstown. They have said the investigation since her death has been "active."
Celina's home is now gone. It was razed after being heavily damaged by fire in December 2013. The fifth-grader, who played basketball on her school team in nearby Canaan, Vermont, is buried in a cemetery in Groveton.