Man pleads guilty to killing Arizona girl in 2014

Man pleads guilty to killing Arizona girl in 2014
Justin James Rector. (Source: Mohave County Sheriff's Department)

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — The grandmother of a Bullhead City girl killed in 2014 said she’s relieved the defendant pleaded guilty.

Justin James Rector pleaded guilty Tuesday, Dec. 18, to a first-degree murder charge in the death of 8-year-old Isabella “Bella” Grogan.

Her grandmother, Toni Page, said she had grown frustrated waiting for justice.

Page said she often visits the site where the girl’s body was found in a shallow grave a day after she was reported missing. She said she maintains a cross, and leaves candy for Halloween and a stocking at Christmas time.

She called the girl her "sunshine" and says she was full of life.

Bullhead City police Chief Brian Williamson said Isabella’s death deeply affected the whole community. He says he’s glad the family has closure.

The 30-year-old Rector, who faces life in prison, will be sentenced set Jan. 30.

Rector also had been charged with kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a body, and assaulting a jail officer in 2017. Those charges were dropped as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Rector was a guest in the girl's home when she went missing in September 2014. Police said she had been strangled and left in a shallow grave near her home.

Rector had been scheduled to go on trial in April.