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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Sheriff: David Onstott Confessed to Killing Sarah Lunde

Aired April 17, 2005 - 13:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zain Verjee at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We are standing by for a news conference in Ruskin, Florida. The Hillsborough County sheriff will be conducting the news conference, David Gee. We have learned here at CNN that there will be some new information that will be revealed about the 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde, whose body was found yesterday.
DAVID GEE, SHERIFF, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL: Little housekeeping here. I want to thank our partners in this investigation. I want to thank Carl Whitehead (ph) and Sergeo Sans (ph) from the FBI, who were here every day with us. I want to thank Lance Newman (ph) and his crew from FDLE for all of their help. And also, Patrick Farley (ph) and Lee Manning (ph) from Team Adam, whose help was invaluable. And I want to thank Lieutenant J.R. Burton (ph) and his crew of homicide detectives who worked relentlessly over these past seven days to bring this case to resolution.

All week long, you've asked me who and what is David Onstott in relation to this investigation. And I can tell you today that he is a person of interest. He is a suspect. And as of about two minutes ago, he is now named as the defendant in the first degree murder case involving our victim, Sarah Lunde.

I'm going to read to you an excerpt from the charging document that was filed against him just a few minutes ago in Tampa.

The sheriff's office alleges that on April 10, 2005, between the hours of midnight and 05:00 a.m., the defendant, David Lee Onstott, arrived at the victim's residence at 2812, 30th Street Southeast in Ruskin, Florida, looking for the victim's mother, Kelly May. The defendant knocked on the door, and the victim invited him to open the door and come in. After entering the residence, the victim and defendant became involved in a verbal confrontation. During the confrontation, the defendant put the victim in a choke hold, causing her to become unconscious and eventually causing her death.

The victim's brother, Andrew Lunde, returned home on April 11th, 2005, at approximately 04:00 hours a.m. and discovered the victim missing. The victim's body was discovered within a body of water on the property located another at 3530 30th Street Southeast in Ruskin, Florida, on April 16th, at approximately 10:08 hours a.m.

The defendant subsequently confessed to the crime, post-Miranda. The listed incident occurred in Hillsborough County, Florida. The defendant, David Onstott, is now presently charged with first degree murder. Other charges are being reviewed at this time.

And do I have any questions?

QUESTION: Was she assaulted?

GEE: I do not have any information on that. Again, we're early into the forensic examination. And I don't have that information right now.

QUESTION: When did he confess, and was he at all remorseful about what happened?

GEE: His confession occurred late yesterday evening, as I said, just prior to midnight, I believe. And no comment about the -- other than the existence of a confession, not going to make any statement, other than there is one, and not the content of his confession at this time.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GEE: Again, not going to be able to comment on that at this time, other than supposedly there was some type of confrontation and an ensuing argument.

QUESTION: He said he put her in a choke hold, though? Is that where that information comes from?

GEE: That is where that information comes -- yeah, I'll say that, that information does come from the confession.

QUESTION: Sources have told CNN that the body was weighed down. Can you confirm that or deny it, and tell us if so with what?

GEE: You know, I won't go any further than to tell you, as I did yesterday, that when he put her there, he went to great effort to try to keep her body from being discovered. I don't want to say exactly what that -- what the method was at this time. And that will all come out at the time of discovery, if not before.

QUESTION: Sheriff, was anybody else (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... in less than two years, June 2003, had a DOP (ph) regarding his probation, received more probation. And as we know, March 5th, he was charged with failing to register, once again, was released on bail. A lot of issues there, but any comments on those things?

GEE: You know, again, don't want to blame any particular judge or attorney. It is just a symptom of what is a broken system. I think we all know that. And obviously there is a -- I think there are a lot of efforts right now to reform the system. And I think clearly everyone acknowledges that, and let's just hope -- let's just hope our legislative bodies in the federal government and the state government step up to the plate, and let's take these people off the street. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Was anybody else potentially involved in this either in disposing of the body or any other way?

GEE: At this time, at this time I have no information that would suggest that anybody else was involved. Again, always keep that door open, you know, but -- yes, sir.

QUESTION: Was she victim -- was she sexually assaulted in any way?

GEE: I do not know that at this time. I do not know that. She was -- she was partially -- I will acknowledge it -- she was partially clothed yesterday at the time of her recovery. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

GEE: I do not know. I think it was really -- I think there were a lot of efforts in the Detective Lewis (ph), who conducted a lot of those interviews. I think it was through his tenacious efforts and staying with it and working with this person all week long that one of the reasons he did -- what eventually made him confess, I don't know.

QUESTION: Did he go to the home looking to harm the mom, or was this all a result of that fight?

GEE: I don't know why he went to the home. You know, we do not know why he went to the home.

QUESTION: Did drugs or alcohol play a role in Onstatt (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GEE: I do not know that at this time. Do not know that.

QUESTION: The killing occurred within the house. Do you think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the house, the death occurred in the house?

GEE: That's the information we have right now. I can just tell you what is in the affidavit this time. And, of course, the indictment could reflect other information at some later time.

Yes.

QUESTION: Sheriff, you think possibly here jealousy may have played a part in the motive (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GEE: I do not think that. No, I don't think. We have no information to suggest that.

QUESTION: Any signs of sexual abuse on Sarah?

GEE: Again, I've said, I don't -- I don't have that information right now. It is just too early. The medical examiner is too early in their examination. One more question.

QUESTION: Are you seeking the death penalty in this case?

GEE: Well, that's going to be for the state attorney. I certainly hope so. QUESTION: Do you have any evidence that he had any prior sexual contact with Sarah while he had been involved with the mother?

GEE: No, we do not believe that had occurred. No.

Thank you.

QUESTION: How would you describe the suspect's demeanor?

GEE: I wasn't there, but you know, I don't know. I was not there then.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) had been found or when he...

GEE: I do not -- you know, I don't know. You're talking about a person who is -- who would murder a child. Who knows what is in his mind. I don't know.

Thank you, all, very much for your patience and courtesy this week. Thank you.

VERJEE: You've been listening to a news conference being held there just moments ago by Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. The headline out of that conference, there is a suspect, David Onstott. He was described by the sheriff as a person of interest. He said he is a suspect. He has been named as a defendant in the first degree murder case of Sarah Lunde.

Other charges, the sheriff indicated, are being reviewed.

Apparently, Onstott has -- had confessed yesterday evening to committing the crime. A document has been filed against him in Tampa, Florida.

Joining us now is Sara Dorsey. She is in Ruskin, Florida. She joins us now. Sara, what more did the sheriff say?

SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically you covered it there. He did say that David Onstott, who is a 36-year-old sex offender, as we have been reporting, is charged with murder in this case after an alleged confession he made to investigators last evening. He said on April 10th, which would have been, I believe, Sunday morning, between midnight and 5:00 a.m. was when Mr. Onstott went to the home and apparently killed Sarah.

He is saying that basically investigators believe it stemmed from a fight according to this confession, that he put the 13-year-old in a headlock, according to that confession, and that is how she subsequently died.

Again, charged with murder in this case, and this is someone that they were looking at from the very beginning because of what Sarah's brother had reported to officers, that he had come home early Sunday morning from being out with friends and fallen asleep. He was woken up later by David Onstott at about 4:00 in the morning coming to the house, knocking on the door, looking for Kelly May, the mother in this household, who was not there.

Also, Mr. Onstott walked in the house, taken a beer bottle that had been left on the table. The son didn't know whose beer bottle that was. Mr. Onstott took it and left. That subsequently started a search for beer bottles in this area. As we know now, there was a confession that came last night. So not necessarily unexpected. People here were talking about this. Investigators were saying all along, they were talking to this man but they weren't naming him a suspect or a person of interest until right now in this press conference, when they did tell us he is indeed now the defendant and charged based on that alleged confession -- Zain.

VERJEE: Where is David Onstott now?

DORSEY: He is in the jail here already. He was being held on unrelated charges. He has a couple -- first, not registering as a sex offender. He's had that charge previously as well. He was being held for that, as well as a DUI charge out of Michigan. There is no bond from what we understand on that DUI charge. So, you know, wasn't surprising that investigators weren't necessarily hurrying. They wanted to get all their ducks in a row. They were obviously trying to get a confession, talking to him, interviewing him.

But they knew he wasn't going anywhere. And that was something the sheriff said in previous press conferences, I'm not going to name this guy until I can charge him, until I can put handcuffs on him, because we know where he's at. And that was something the sheriff kept saying to all of us that were asking about this man. You know, we know where he's at. He's not going anywhere. We don't have to do anything until we know for certain. Of course, then they got that alleged confession that the sheriff just released, which allowed them to file charges, and again, he said more charges could be coming. They're going to be looking into if any additional charges apply in this case -- Zain.

VERJEE: What kind of a relationship did this man have to the girl's mother?

DORSEY: We haven't gotten a lot of information about that. What they have been telling us is just that it is a relationship. From family members, we have heard it is an on-again/off-again relationship. No one will really tell us more than that.

The son, Andrew, who is Sarah's brother, mentioned to reporters here that he didn't really like this man, that often he would start fights with Andrew, and, you know, it was someone that Andrew stayed away from, that he didn't really get along with him. But outside of that, people here aren't really talking much about him. No one really knows a lot. The family is keeping very tight-lipped at this point, not saying a whole lot. But all we know is that there was some sort of relationship, and as Andrew had said, an on-again/off-again relationship.

VERJEE: In the news conference, the sheriff indicated that it wasn't clear whether she had been sexually assaulted. Tell us a little bit more about that and any details that came out from that. DORSEY: Well, often in cases like this, they are going to cover their bases before they make an announcement. Tests are going to have to be done to see if there is any cause to believe that, if there was evidence left behind.

You know, you also have to keep in mind, this body was submerged in water, the sheriff believes probably since she went missing, just a few hours after she went missing. All of those things are going to play a factor. But her body will have to go through an autopsy. They will have to look at those types of things. The sheriff, this sheriff especially has been very careful about what he is saying to the media all along. Wants to get it right, wants to only tell us the information that he has facts to back up. So it is not surprising that he's not going to put that out here now, Zain. He's going to wait until the evidence is in his hand if I had to guess. This is the way he's operated so far.

Once he gets that evidence, I'm sure he'll give it to us, if there indeed is any sign of sexual assault. But he did -- but just to add to that, though, let me add this, he did say that she was partially clothed when they found the body. So that, you know, you can look at that however. But he did just confirm that to us in this press conference.

VERJEE: He also didn't seem to want to reveal to the media what method was used to attempt to keep the body from being discovered. What did he say specifically about that? And why do you think, from what you know, is important not to reveal that detail?

DORSEY: Well, what he basically said is he reiterated something he told us in another press conference, that he wasn't going comment on things like that.

You don't want to taint a case. You know, the officers do this a lot. They want to give you what they can, they want to share information with the media, but they also want to make this a fair case. They don't want to put anything out there that isn't true. You know, possibly they're still looking into that. It is going to be evidence in a case against this man. So often, they hold some details back, just for that very reason -- Zain.

VERJEE: He mentioned the medical examiners. How far along are they? Presumably it is going take some time. But what did he say about that?

DORSEY: You know, he just said the medical examiner will be in charge of those types of things, sexual assault, all of that, that you know, pending all of that to come on.

We know that generally, there is an initial autopsy, it will come out sometime with the cause of death, which we already know according to what the sheriff had to say. Then a much more in-depth autopsy report comes out later. That could take up to a few months, depending on what it is exactly that they're going to be doing and what testing they have to do -- Zain.

VERJEE: And finally, Sarah, the family, her parents, where are they? Who are they with? Has the community there come together?

DORSEY: Well, I can tell you that at one time Kelly May, the mother, was here, with several family members and a group of friends, supporters. They have not wanted to talk to the media and we're all trying to respect that. She's been here at the church. We saw her inside looking at some pictures, sitting on the couch. If I had to assume, possibly pictures from the retreat. Some church people may have been showing her -- Sarah was at a retreat this weekend, before this tragic incident happened. And I know there were some pictures of that floating around, so that could have possibly been what she was looking at.

Sitting on the couch, getting hugs from numerous people here, everyone paying their respects to her. And she seems to be holding up as well as can be expected. She's talking to people, walking around, accepting hugs. She seems to be doing, you know, as well as you can under these circumstances, and having found out that your daughter was killed.

VERJEE: CNN's Sara Dorsey reporting from Ruskin in Florida on this breaking news, that David Onstott has been charged and named as a defendant in the first degree murder case of Sarah Lunde. Other charges are being reviewed. Onstott apparently confessed yesterday evening. A document has been filed against him in Tampa, Florida.

Now, one person who knows all too well what it feels like to lose a child is Marc Klaas. His daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in 1993. He's now a national advocate for missing children. Mr. Klaas joins us now live by phone from Grass Valley in California. Thank you so much once again for joining us.

Is the fact that David Onstott has been named as a defendant in the first degree murder case -- does that lessen the blow of the parents anymore?

MARC KLAAS, FATHER OF POLLY KLAAS: No, no, I think that they probably knew all along that this was the guy that did it. Now that it has been confirmed that it is her, as we spoke yesterday, just 24 hours ago, that now that it has been confirmed, there is no more hope for the family. And the terrible reality is sinking in, and it is going to be the very, very, very dark days for them. And, again, these are days that some families are unable to recover from. These kinds of situations destroy families. They destroy members of families. There is a ripple effect that just tends to go on for an awful long time.

VERJEE: Unfortunately you've been in this awful predicament. And it is really awful. What would you say -- how would you say that the family should deal with this kind of terrible reality? What can one do?

KLAAS: Well, that's an excellent question, Zain. And I think that everybody can learn from this. Oftentimes, states provide victim services. They'll provide psychological counseling. They'll provide other kinds of services to try to help the family recover from the enormity of the situation. So -- and in our own instance, what we did, and what so many others have done is we depend upon whatever faith we might have. We depend upon the members of our family. We look warily at individuals who all of a sudden want to become our best friends. We take advantage of any kind of psychological counseling, and/or even medications that are being offered at a time of intense need.

The problem is, is that these are the situations where everybody in the family needs somebody to lean on more than they ever have before. Everybody needs emotional support. And therefore, everybody is in less of a position to provide emotional support to others. So it becomes incredibly precarious. And one can only hope that with the support of the state and with the support of your faith and with the support of your family and the love of your family, that you'll be able to at some point come out the other end and put your life back together and back onto a positive track again.

VERJEE: How much emotional support did you receive back in 1993 when you were going through this from the community that was around you, and how much did it help you?

KLAAS: When we were doing this, we didn't realize that we were getting support from the entire country. I mean, we were in the middle of the maelstrom. And we thought that what we were getting was what everybody else was getting. But as it turned out, there was just an enormous love for my daughter and all of the little girls and boys that are kidnapped and murdered. And people have always been extremely kind to us. I mean, it is just overwhelming, the kind of considerations that have been afforded my family over the course of the years. And it's, of course, very, very helpful, because it reaffirms the life of our missing child, that so many people become invested, so many people are mourning her. It certainly helps to know that people are in support of the kinds of things that we were trying to do, now Mark Lunsford is trying to do and I'm sure Sarah's family will probably try to do as well. So you know, you can't really calculate the importance of that kind of support, of any kind of real support, quite frankly.

VERJEE: Marc, forgive me if this next question sounds quite insensitive, but I think it is important to ask -- would the mother or the father of Sarah Lunde been asked by authorities to identify their daughter's body?

KLAAS: That depends on certain factors. In our case, we didn't have to do that, simply because she had been -- she had been under a piece of plywood on a pile of garbage for two months. There are certain things that can be done so that the family doesn't have to physically identify. You can use fingerprints. You can perhaps use photographs. You can most certainly use DNA. And if in fact, it is in such a state of decomposition that the authorities don't want you to do that, then you then have the choice. Sometimes parents insist upon looking upon the remains of their missing child, and then that's something that they have to live with I guess for all eternity. But I can certainly understand why they would do that. It is all about that hope factor. Until you look with your own eyes, you're not going to give up that hope. In other instances such as ours, we had enough trust in the FBI and in the police and in the authorities that when they told us definitively that our daughter had been identified through both fingerprints and DNA, we were satisfied. I didn't want to look upon something that would be burned into my memory forever that was not the beautiful daughter that resides in my heart.

VERJEE: When we, the media, put the spotlight on a situation like this and what happens, from your perspective -- what happens to the victims' families once the spotlight goes somewhere else? Once people move on with their lives and things go quote/unquote, back to normal, how does someone in that situation -- how did you when you were in that situation deal with it?

KLAAS: Well, there is no normal left. I mean, everything changed. The Minute that little girl was discovered missing, the whole world gets turned upside down.

Now, there are three ways to approach these kinds of things. And really the media doesn't have a lot to do with that. I mean, the media is so incredibly important in bringing these issues to light and in helping to recover these children. But once the media leaves, it really has very little to do with them.

It is a matter of choice. It is a matter of deciding that you want to fight back and that's what so many people have done, the most notable example would be John Walsh or myself or now Mark Lunsford.

And another way to go is to lose yourself in depression. And so many people go into a depression, they're never able to pull themselves out of. Or they become involved involved alcohol or drugs. These are all very destructive means of dealing with the situation. And it really means that the bad guy wins again.

And I guess the final way one can go is to become a -- is to go into denial and just kind of pretend that it didn't happen and try to move on with your life. And obviously that's not going to work in the long run either.

So, the people that ultimately I think do best are number one, the people that fight back. And number two, the people that have some kind of finality. And when I say finality, I mean they know that their child is no longer out there and is just another missing person, that they have been found, that they have been identified. And that at least we don't have to live with the fear that they're being harmed.

VERJEE: If you had one thing to say to Sara Michelle Lunde's family on learning what they did today, on learning the news about their daughter, what would you say?

KLAAS: Well, first of all, Zain, I and my family wish to offer our condolence to Sarah's family because we know that these are the most difficult days that will ever -- that they will ever have to go through. But depend upon, as we have already discussed, depend upon your family, depend upon your community, depend upon your faith, take advantage of any kinds of services that are being offered by the state and certainly try to find a way to fight back.

And I guess as I would say to all families, and it took me a long time -- it took my wife wife and I years to do this -- there is an ability to turn the corner and finally have a decent life again. And it may take years, it may even take decades, everybody is a little bit different. But I can say that after eight years and after depending upon all of the things that I had just mentioned to you, my family my wife and I, were able to start appreciating the beautiful things that life has to offer again.

It was not an easy road. It doesn't mean that we have ever forgotten or that things have changed in our reality. It simply means that life no longer is a disastrous event every morning.

VERJEE: Marc Klaas, his daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in 1993. He's now a national advocate for missing children. He joined us by phone from Grass Valley in California.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and your perspective. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

KLAAS: Sure.

VERJEE: Well, in case you missed the significant announcement, just a short while ago that David Onstott has been charged and named as a defendant in the first degree murder case of Sarah Lunde. Here it is for you again. This is Sheriff David Gee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEE: All week long, you have asked me who and what is David Onstott in relation to this investigation. And I can tell you today that he is a public -- he is a person of interest. He is a suspect. And as of about two minutes ago, he is now named as the defendant in the first degree murder case involving our victim of Sarah Lunde.

I'm going to read to you an excerpt from the charging document that was filed against him just a few minutes ago in Tampa.

The sheriff's office alleges that on April 10th, 2005, between the hours of midnight and 05:00 a.m., the defendant, David Lee Onstott, arrived at the victim's residence at 2812, 30th Street Southeast in Ruskin, Florida, looking for the victim's mother, Kelly May. The defendant knocked on the door, and the victim invited him to open the door and come in. After entering the residence, the victim and defendant became involved in a verbal confrontation. During the confrontation, the defendant put the victim in a choke hold, causing her to become unconscious and eventually causing her death.

The victim's brother, Andrew Lunde, returned home on April 11th, 2005, at approximately 04:00 hours a.m. and discovered the victim missing. The victim's body was discovered within a body of water on the property located another at 3530 30th Street Southeast in Ruskin, Florida, on April 16th, at approximately 10:08 hours a.m.

The defendant subsequently confessed to the crime, post-Miranda. The listed incident occurred in Hillsborough County, Florida. The defendant, David Onstott, is now presently charged with first degree murder. Other charges are being reviewed at this time.

Do I have any questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Sheriff David Gee about 30 minutes ago at a press conference in Ruskin, Florida, saying that David Onstott has been charged and named as a defendant in the first degree murder case of Sarah Michelle Lunde.

Joining us on the line now is Kendall Coffey. He's a former U.S. Attorney. Thank you very much for joining us.

What is next for David Onstott?

KENDALL COFFEY, FRM. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, he probably doesn't have a lawyer at this point. I imagine that there could very well be a court appearance, some kind of initial appearance, maybe ever as soon as tomorrow where a lawyer is appointed.

The first thing a lawyer will do once gets into the case is try to challenge the confession. So we can assume at this point the police still interest have to put every piece of the evidence together and prepare a very careful and meticulous investigation, because this is clearly heading to be a death penalty prosecution.

VERJEE: What kind of evidence will the police be searching for now?

COFFEY: Well, they will be, of course, piecing together not only from the scene of the crime, but the scene of where this poor little girl's body was discovered. They want to -- they're not going to accept the account. They want to get as much details as they can.

They want to be prepared, even though it is very unlikely that the confession would be jettisoned. We were told a moment ago that the defendant was mirandized.

Even so, they want to get all of the evidence they can to place him at the scene of the crime, to get details if they can about how the struggle occurred, about how the murder was convicted. Even assuming a jury convicts, you are going to get into a death penalty phase down the road where all details of how this crime was committed, how heinous, how cruel, how atrocious it might have been might been could be essential to the jury's determination of whether to send Onstott to Florida's death row.

VERJEE: Does a confession automatically amount to a conviction?

COFFEY: Very, very, few confessions could be overcome in a guilt and innocence phase of a trial. So that is a virtual signature on the part of Onstott for his own judgment of conviction. But it doesn't mean that the defense won't try to get the confession thrown out. And you'll see every battle over every legal issue from tying to get venue transferred out of Hillsborough County, where as we can imagine emotions are incredibly high about this atrocity, to questions of whether or not somehow when the defendant gets to the guilt, gets past the guilt phase, to the death or life phase of a murder trial, whether he can come up with some circumstances that make this seem to be a less horrible crime than it appears to be.

VERJEE: And in your professional opinion, is that something that would -- that would happen easily to make it less horrible than it is? I mean, everything points the opposite direction, doesn't it?

COFFEY: This is a case where this defendant is going to end up on death row. But in the meantime, everyone has got to go by the book, make sure the evidence is collected carefully, make sure he gets a lawyer, make sure the Ts are crossed and the Is dotted, because this case will get great attention. It has great emotion. And it is a case that will even though it seems open and shut today, it will be in our court system for years.

VERJEE: In a situation like this, how much from a legal perspective, from an investigative perspective in building a case -- how much don't you want to tell the media and why?

COFFEY: Well, I think that you always want to make sure that you hold back some things. If -- for example, if it is critically important to make sure you got a good confession to assure that the defendant is providing details to the police that only the real killer could have known. And that's one of the important reasons early on when the police investigators want to hold back on a lot of information, because nothing validates a confession more than the defendant providing otherwise unknowable specifics about a gruesome crime.

VERJEE: Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney, thank you very much for joining us.

COFFEY: Well, thanks for inviting me.

VERJEE: Appreciate it.

We want to go back now to Ruskin in Florida to Sarah Dorsey.

Sara, for people just joining us now, and learning about the news that has been developing over the past half hour or so, can you bring people up to speed? What have we learned? How significant has it been?

DORSEY: Absolutely. The Hillsborough County sheriff David Gee just announced a short time ago that 36-year-old David Onstott, a convicted sex offender we should add, is now charged with first degree murder in this case against -- in this case of the killing of Sarah Lunde.

Now, I'll tell you this isn't all together unexpected. This is a name thrown out around here for quite a while, because it was Sara's brother Andrew that came home and noticed her missing. Onstott came back to that house at 4:00 in the morning looking for Kelly May, Sarah's mother. And she wasn't there. It was that that triggered police to start talking to him.

And that's all that investigators would tell us. They would only say we're talking to him. He's not a suspect. He's nothing. Until right now, we just found out.

And this is a man that is already a convicted sex offender. He already had this on, you know, his rap sheet. And that was something that Mark Lunsford has been talking about out here. As you know, his daughter Jessica was killed in February, allegedly, by another convicted sex offender.

That's something that is an issue that is really been going around out here. We know that Sarah was found partially clothed, according to the sheriff, that is something new we found out today. And of course, she was found a half mile from her home in an abandoned fish farm -- Zain.

VERJEE: Breaking news from Ruskin, Florida. Sarah Dorsey reporting. Thank you so much.

We're going to take a short break. We'll continue in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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