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Dominican Republic calls off search for murdered girl, 9

A man raped a nine-year-old girl who walked down an alley near his home before murdering her and dumping her body in the Caribbean Sea, police in the Dominican Republic say. 

Liz María Sánchez was last seen on security camera footage walking  into an alley in the Santo Domingo sector of Ensanche Isabelita on Sunday.

Cops say  Esterlín Francisco Santos, 40, has confessed to raping her before killing her and dumping her body into the sea.

A search and rescue team of divers spent several hours Wednesday morning swimming through the choppy waters in hopes of finding the girl. The search has now been called off. 

The 40-year-old told law enforcement officials in Santo Domingo that he strangled the girl and then placed her body inside a large bag before riding his motorcycle to the 14 1/2 kilometer marker on Las Americas Highway.

A surveillance video captured Sánchez at 8:58am local time Sunday walking past two individuals and heading into an an alley near Santos’ home. 

The camera showed Santos pushing his motorcycle out of the alley at 11:23am. The footage shows a yellow milk crate behind the rear seat, where a bag that contained the girl’s body was reportedly hidden.  

Santos then rode off and the security camera showed him returning at 12:33pm without the large bag.

The alleged killer also told authorities that he filled up the bag with rocks before tossing it with Sánchez body into the sea.

Santos told authorities that he killed Sánchez because he was afraid she would tell on him to her parents because he had promised to gift her a cellphone for permitting him to touch her.

A separate video showed Santos being put into a police pickup truck after he was led out of the home in front of a large contingent of cops who kept the angry residents back.

The girl’s murder sparked off unrest in the town as local residents burned tires and even set Santo’s motorcycle on fire in the middle of the street outside his residence.

Santo is slated to be arraigned on rape and murder charges when he appears before a judge via video conference on Wednesday evening. 

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