IOWA CITY - A federal inmate was charged Thursday in the rape and slaying of a 5-year-old northern Iowa girl in 2005, a breakthrough in a case that had long frustrated investigators and relatives.
Casey Frederiksen was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual abuse in the death of the Evelyn Miller, whose body was found along the Cedar River.
"What a glorious afternoon it is today," said Floyd County Sheriff Rick Lynch, thanking residents for patience during the seven-year investigation.
Lynch and investigators announced the charges in Floyd, the northern Iowa town where Evelyn vanished from her family's apartment in the early-morning hours of July 1, 2005. At the time, Frederiksen was engaged to Evelyn's mother and living with them. He was watching the girl and two other young children and claimed he was sleeping when she vanished.
Charis Paulson, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said investigators sought charges against Frederiksen after evidence mounted over the years. She said Frederiksen changed his story regarding what he'd done during that night, disclosed information about the condition of her body that wasn't publicly known and made statements implicating himself to other inmates.
Frederiksen, 33, is incarcerated at a prison in Marion, Ill., with a release date of 2026. He was convicted on child pornography and methamphetamine charges with evidence gathered during the investigation into Evelyn's death.
Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud said he filed paperwork seeking Frederiksen's return to Iowa to face the charges. It was not clear whether Frederiksen had an attorney. He would face life in prison if convicted in Iowa, which does not have the death penalty.
Evelyn's mother reported her missing after returning from an overnight shift as a nurse's aide. Kayakers discovered the girl's body days later two miles away on the banks of the river. Investigators had questioned Frederiksen in the death - giving him immunity to testify about drug activities, but he was never charged.
A police affidavit filed Thursday laying out the case against Frederiksen does not mention whether a murder weapon was discovered.
An autopsy found Evelyn died of sharp force injuries, including wounds to the neck, and that there was evidence of sexual assault. Those details were never released to the public.
The affidavit paints Frederiksen as acting erratically and lying after the girl vanished, being addicted to child pornography involving young girls, and making incriminating statements while in prison. It says FBI dogs picked up Frederiksen's scent near where authorities believe the girl entered the river.
Frederiksen claimed he last saw Evelyn asleep on a loveseat when he woke up to change a boy's diaper at 2 a.m. But as volunteers were searching for Evelyn in coming days, Frederiksen didn't join them and instead went with a friend on a trip to Des Moines and Waterloo, the affidavit says.
While incarcerated, Frederiksen would cry and say, "I'm sorry Evelyn'," one inmate told investigators. Another inmate said that Frederiksen talked about touching the girl's dead body and carrying her to the river. A third said Frederiksen told him he'd molested the girl for years.
Frederiksen claimed to police in 2007 that an acquaintance had taken the girl at knifepoint and never brought her back. He later said that he made up that claim, the affidavit says.