The decomposing body of an 8-year-old girl who disappeared a week ago was found today in the bedroom of a 14-year-old boy who lived across the street.
The boy's mother asked a police officer to come into the house at about 7:30 a.m., and he saw Maddie Clifton's feet sticking out from a water bed, Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover said. The body was partially clothed and taped. The cause of death was not immediately determined. The boy, a playmate of Maddie's, was being questioned at police headquarters. His name was not released.
Glover said the boy's house was searched three times by police as part of the general search of the neighborhood. During the most recent search Monday night, police detected an odor, which the boy's mother explained came from birds and other pets, he said.
Hundreds of volunteers distributed thousands of leaflets with Maddie's picture since she disappeared about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3, some 30 minutes after she dashed out her front door to play with friends.
On Friday, Maddie's parents, Steve and Sheila Clifton, issued a tearful plea for her return.
"Maddie, if you are out there and you can hear us, we are ready for you to come back home," her sobbing mother said. "Maddie is a very strong little girl. She is full of love. Maddie, please come home!"
On Sunday, family members and volunteers handed out fliers and yellow ribbons to 70,000 fans at the Jacksonville Jaguars-Cincinnati Bengals football game. The Jaguars coaching staff wore the ribbons during the game, and U.S. Navy pilots drew attention to Maddie's disappearance by flying a "missing man" formation during pregame ceremonies. The formation's precision is broken by the absence of one plane.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 4 throughout the day for details of this tragic story.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)