A 55-year-old man lured a 6-year-old girl into his Branson, Mo., hotel room with snacks and then allegedly strangled her to death over the weekend, according to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
John Paul Roberts was charged with first-degree murder Sunday after officials said they found the body of Jasmine Miller beneath his bed in the Windsor Inn, where she was also apparently a guest. Roberts was likely to be arraigned Monday, a prosecutor said over the weekend.
“My prayers go out to the family, and I hope that everyone will think of this and take extra time to treasure their children this evening," Taney County Prosecutor Jeffery M. Merrell told The Times on Sunday.
Jasmine’s disappearance Saturday evening prompted police to search the Windsor Inn, a down-market hotel that offers rooms as cheap as $47 a night and is an easy walk to attractions such as the World's Largest Toy Museum and go-kart and mini-golf courses.
Jasmine, whose blond hair was trimmed short, had last been seen wearing a black coat, a striped shirt and jeans, according to local news reports.
Searchers found her body in Roberts’ room, of where he was the sole occupant, according to court documents. Jasmine had been strangled, police said.
Roberts didn't appear to know her, Taney County Prosecutor Merrell told The Times, noting that investigators were still looking into the case.
Branson police said in a statement provided to The Times that Roberts had acted alone and that Jasmine's killing had been premeditated, but did not provide further details.
A mugshot of Roberts showed him with an unkempt beard, an uneven haircut and a slightly startled expression as he stared into the camera, his mouth tightened in a grimace.
The names of Jasmine's parents or guardians weren't released, and the phone at the Windsor Inn repeatedly rang without answer Sunday and Monday.
Merrell said Roberts had been living in the Branson area recently. Roberts had been arrested in late January and was free on $171 bond in Taney County while awaiting trial for second-degree burglary -- knowingly entering a home or building to commit a crime. Roberts pleaded not guilty in that case.
Online court records for Roberts in connection with the murder and burglary cases listed his address as a Branson apartment complex about four miles from the Windsor Inn.
A manager for that apartment complex declined to comment Sunday.
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