BULLHEAD CITY, AZ - Authorities say a close family friend was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of an 8-year-old Bullhead City girl.
Police said evidence at the scene where Isabella “Bella” Grogan’s body was found linked Justin Rector to the crime.
But in police documents, Rector told police he went to a friend’s house immediately after leaving Isabella’s house.
Police say Rector had been staying at the girl's home for the past few days.
But Rector's long-time friend, Nicholas Noriega, says he never saw him the night Bella disappeared.
“Either we were asleep or we weren’t here. I don’t know if he showed up or if he is just saying that,” said Noriega.
“We shouldn’t have been involved in this. Cops were here all day.”
In fact, Noriega says he never saw Rector until police brought him by his house.
“I pulled him aside and I asked him to look me in the eye. I asked if he had anything to do with this and he said ‘no’,” said Noriega.
Police say they found Rector’s shoe prints near a shallow grave where search teams found the girl’s body.
Noriega said Rector told him, “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Noriega says the suspect is a father of two, including an 11-year-old girl, and he just can’t imagine Rector hurting any child.