Isabella Grogan-Cannella update: Bullhead City girl died by strangulation, authorities say

BULLHEAD CITY, AZ - Authorities said Friday an 8-year-old Bullhead City girl found dead this week was strangled to death.

Bullhead City police said the Mohave County Medical Examiner has determined the cause of death of Isabella (Bella) Grogan-Cannella as asphyxiation by strangulation.

Isabella was reported missing early Tuesday morning and a massive search was launched to find her.

Her body was found in a shallow grave not far from her home on Wednesday and family friend, 26-year-old Justin James Rector, was arrested on counts of kidnapping and first-degree murder on Thursday.

Police say Rector was one of several people living or staying at the family’s home and when Isabella was last seen Monday night, she was seen with Rector.

According to court documents, Rector did not deny killing Isabella, but said he could not talk about it and asked for an attorney.

Police said Friday that the case is still under investigation, including whether Isabella was a victim of sexual assault.

Officials say Grogan Cannella's 10-year-old sister is in state custody at this time.

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