WOOSTER -- A Wayne County man charged in the death of a missing 9-year-old girl found over the weekend in a trash dumpster appeared in court Monday morning.
A judge set bond at $1 million for Jerrod E. Metsker. He is due back in court on Dec. 23 for a preliminary hearing. Metsker will be assigned a public defender.
Authorities say the unemployed man accused of killing 9-year-old Reann Murphy had been building a snowman with the girl just a few hours before she was reported missing.
Authorities described Metsker as a family friend and neighbor. They say Reann was playing in the snow with several other children, but she was left alone with the Metsker after the others went home.
Authorities haven't given a motive for the killing.
Late Monday, Wayne Coroner Amy Jolliff released the preliminary autopsy finding -- that Reannl was strangled with an unknown object.
Metsker, 24, remains in custody. He is charged with aggravated murder.
Metsker was taken into custody on Sunday just 12 hours after deputies found Reann's body in a dumpster near her home. The little girl had last been seen playing outside on Saturday evening.
Neighbors tell WKYC's Tom Beres that Metsker was one of the ones who was leading the search to find Reann. They said he seemed impatient when they didn't find her quickly.
One neighbor, Shari Rose, told WKYC that Metsker made one of the 9-1-1 calls about Reann being missing. She also said he frequently played outside with the younger children.
Rose went on to say that Metsker's mother told people that he was autistic. Rose said she never worried when her children played with Metsker and she didn't consider him as dangerous but "just a big kid."
Rose said Metsker was the only adult male in the trailer park who declined to take a DNA test.
Wayne County sheriff's Capt. Doug Hunter says Metsker made a statement to sheriff's deputies but stopped short of a confession, only admitting that he was playing with Reann before she disappeared.
Reann's father attended Metsker's video arraignment. He made an emotional statement to the media afterward, saying of his daughter, "She saved my life. I wish I could have saved her."
You can hear more from Reann's father in the video clip below:
The father of a missing girl found dead in Wayne County talks emotionally about the loss of his daughter.
The Wayne County Sheriff has not discussed a possible motive. He has described Metsker as a neighbor and friend to the Murphy family.