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LOCAL : Girl Strangled; 14-Year-Old Held

Seven-year-old Sara Nan Hodges of Newhall was strangled and her body stuffed into an 18-by-18-inch space beneath the headboard of a 14-year-old neighbor’s water bed, apparently before she was reported missing last Thursday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies said this morning.

The girl’s body was found Sunday afternoon in a house five doors from her own home on Alderbrook Drive. (Story, Part I, Page 3.) The 14-year-old, who had lived with his mother in the house about two months, was arrested on suspicion of murder and was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall.

Deputies said the suspect, who moved to Newhall from Florida after being involved in burglaries there, slept at night on the bed where the body was hidden until it was found Sunday by the owner of the home.

The cause of death had not yet been determined. Deputies said the decomposition of the body led them to conclude that the girl was killed sometime after she was noticed missing at 2 p.m. Thursday, but before she was reported missing to the Sheriff’s Department six hours later.

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