NEWPORT, Mich. -- Authorities believe a man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl abducted the girl from her home on the morning she was to testify against him and killed her later that day before killing himself.
Raymond R. Bush, 38, of Newport, who had a tattoo of the girl's name on the back of his neck, was scheduled to appear Wednesday in 80th District Court, where he was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, authorities said.
Instead, they say he abducted Taylor E. Manley from her father's home near Evart, in a rural area of Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. State police issued an Amber Alert for the girl, and their bodies were found Wednesday evening in Bush's minivan in a cemetery about 170 miles southeast of where she disappeared.
"I'm devastated," said Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis, whose office was handling the sexual assault case. "She was just a vibrant young woman. She had a lot of spunk and a lot of promise. It's senseless."
The deaths were being investigated as a possible murder-suicide, said State Police Detective Sgt. George D. Pratt in Reed City, near where Taylor disappeared.
Bush and Taylor both died from .22-caliber gunshot wounds to the head, and Taylor also was shot in the chest, police said. Bush's death was ruled a suicide, while Taylor's was a homicide, the Wayne County medical examiner's office said.
Bush's ex-girlfriend told investigators he called her late Wednesday morning and said he fatally shot Taylor and planned to kill himself, Pratt said. Bush later stopped at the ex-girlfriend's home in Newport, where she saw a young woman's body in the van, Pratt said. The woman called police after getting the first call and after seeing Bush.
An arrest warrant was issued after Bush failed to appear in court, Clare County Sheriff John Wilson said. State police issued the alert on Wednesday morning, saying she had been kidnapped from the Reed City area and Bush was a suspect.
Taylor's father was at work about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when he spoke to his daughter by phone, Pratt said. When he arrived home that morning about 8 a.m., she was missing. Police found that a door at the Osceola County home appeared to have been forced open.
"He didn't show for court," Pratt said of Bush. "That made us a little more concerned."
Taylor was scheduled to testify during Bush's preliminary examination, where a judge determines whether there is enough evidence to send a case to trial, Ambrozaitis said. Troopers found the van and bodies about 5:25 p.m. Wednesday in St. Charles Cemetery in the southeastern Michigan community of Newport, about 35 miles outside of Detroit.
Wilson described Bush as a friend of Taylor's family who would spend time in Clare County. Bush was arrested and arraigned on the charges in September, and was free after posting $50,000 bond, Wilson said.
The charges stem from a July report made by Taylor and her mother to the Clare County sheriff's department about sexual contact between the girl and a man, Wilson said. At the time, the girl was living with her mother in Harrison.
Bush befriended Taylor and her mother about a year ago, when they were living in the area where Bush lived, Ambrozaitis said. His relationship with the girl turned sexual after Taylor and her mother moved to Clare County, Ambrozaitis said.
Bush had "Taylor" tattooed on the back of his neck, said Sgt. Joe Cairnduff with the Michigan State Police in Reed City.
Third-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony involving sexual penetration that may be charged when it involves a child at least 13 years of age and under 16. It's punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Taylor had recently transferred into Evart Public Schools, Superintendent Howard Hyde said. "We were just getting to know Taylor," Hyde said in a statement. "We are saddened by the tragic events and our deepest sympathies go out to Taylor's family."