TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. — A man accused of cramming a 9-year-old girl's body into a suitcase and dragging her to Tampa Bay was charged Friday with first-degree murder.
Granville Ritchie, 35, of this suburb northeast of Tampa also was charged with capital sexual battery and aggravated child abuse in the death of Felecia Williams, police Chief Kenneth Albano said. Felecia's naked body was found May 17 floating near the shore of the causeway that spans the bay between Clearwater and Tampa International Airport.
"It has been extremely emotional at times," Albano said of the three-month investigation.
An autopsy revealed that Felecia had been hit repeatedly in the head, sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
Family friend Eboni Wiley, 23, and Ritchie had picked up Felecia from the child's Tampa home at about 4 p.m. ET the day before she was found dead. Felecia's older sister, Shakelia Givins, 24, was watching Felecia and her siblings while their mother, Felecia Demerson, 40, was at a hair appointment.
The 9-year-old had called her mom to ask permission to go.
The three then went to an apartment in Temple Terrace. By 4:50, Wiley had left the apartment, and Felecia and Ritchie were alone for more than an hour — enough time for Ritchie to sexually assault the girl and kill her, Albano said.
Wiley was arrested previously on charges of lying to police during their investigation, a felony, saying that Felecia went missing and she looked for the 9-year-old for several hours before telling the child's family.
Ritchie, who was arrested on unrelated drug and sex charges soon after Felecia's body was found, had told investigators that he dropped Wiley off elsewhere, drove about 6 miles away to Thonotosassa, Fla., and then returned to his apartment. However, global-positioning system data from Ritchie's cellphone indicated differently and included information showing that he traveled to the area where Felecia's body was found and stayed there for a while, authorities say.
During a search of the apartment, police say they found a broken suitcase wheel on the apartment's rear patio, wheel marks on the carpet leading to the patio and a broken zipper pull from the suitcase. Although investigators did not find the luggage in which they say Felecia was stowed, Ritchie had a second suitcase of the same style in his car's trunk and witnesses told police that Ritchie owned two of the same suitcases in different sizes.
They say they also found evidence of a freshly cleaned apartment.
During a search of Ritchie's car, investigators also say they found soil and plant debris consistent with the area where Felecia's 9-year-old body was found.
Ritchie remains in Hillsborough County jail after being transferred from Pinellas County.