Murder suspect Ryan Brunn, 20, of Canton, Ga., is escorted into the Cherokee County jail in Canton, Ga., after he was arrested Wednesday,Dec. 7, 2011. Brunn is charged with the murder of seven-year-old Jorelys Rivera who went missing last Friday. .(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The 20-year-old charged with the brutal murder of a 7-year-old Canton girl went before a judge for the first time Thursday afternoon. The judge denied bond for Ryan Brunn.
He appeared in Cherokee County Superior Court in an orange jumpsuit and vest. Brunn quietly answered the judge's questions and appeared nervous. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon for killing Jorelys Rivera.
"We believe that this horrendous crime was planned and calculated," says GBI Director Vernon Keenan, who says information from the public helped lead them to the suspect. The GBI says Brunn has no previous connection to the little girl.
Brunn is a maintenance employee at the River Ridge Apartments where Rivera lived and where her body was found in a dumpster. He has been under surveillance since last night. Keenan would not detail the exact evidence against the young man but confirmed that Brunn does have access to the vacant apartment where evidence shows Rivera was raped and murdered.
WSB’s Richard Sangster reports Brunn is going to stay at the Cherokee County detention center until his trial. Sangster was told that Brunn will not have contact with other inmates.
"We are confident that Brunn is the killer and that is why he is in custody," Keenan said.
But the suspect’s brother is adamant that the GBI has the wrong guy.
"They're making my brother seem like he's a monster,” Steven Brunn said. “My brother, he's kind hearted. He'll give to you if he's got it, he's great with kids and there were never any signs of violence.
Ryan lived in Dahlonega until recently. Steven says he hasn’t seen his brother in weeks, but still can’t believe Ryan could kill anyone.
"This whole thing just don't seem possible,” said Steve Brunn. “It's not his nature. He's not a violent person. I don't understand how this happened."
The suspect has no record of having been a sex offender in Georgia.
"We are investigating all of the past history of Ryan Brunn, and are piecing together what he has been doing for the last several years," said Keenan. "We are going to backtrack all of his actions and determine if he has been involved in any other crimes. He has no known criminal history to us."
Investigators had said they believed her killer was someone who either lived in the modern, sprawling complex north of Atlanta or had regular access to the apartments. Rivera was abducted near a playground at the complex, taken to a vacant apartment, and sexually assaulted before she was stabbed and beaten to death and her body placed in a trash bin, authorities said Tuesday.
"This was a very calculated and planned crime," Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said.
Brunn currently faces murder charges, and more are expected. Garry Moss, the Blue Ridge District Attorney, said he had not made a decision yet on whether to seek the death penalty.
“The state may be considering the premeditation that went into this crime as grounds for asking for death, as well as the young age of the victim,” WSB Legal Analyst Ron Carlson said.
At the news conference, Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance took time to thank the 65 local, state and federal investigators and dozens of volunteers who searched for the child and then worked to find her killer.
"Our goal was to make an arrest for what has happened to this sweet, innocent little girl," said Lance.