A Nevada high school senior was arrested Monday in connection with the death of a 16-year-old girl whose body was found in a shallow desert grave, local police said.
Kody Cree Patten, 18, was arrested on suspicion of murder at around 2 a.m. Monday by police hunting for the killer of his classmate, Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo, 16, according to the Elko County Sherriff's Office.
Costanzo's body was discovered Saturday in a freshly dug hole about 5 miles west of West Wendover, Nev.
Her mother, Celia Costanzo, spoke at a conference Sunday night, thanking the Wendover community and professional agencies for finding her daughter, and pleading for people to come forward with information.
"This is not over yet until the person or persons responsible are brought to justice," she said.
Costanzo, who has been described as a former friend of Patten's, had last been seen leaving the school Thursday evening after track practice. She was caught on a surveillance tape leaving school just after 5 p.m.
Vice Principal Craig Kyllonen said Patten and the murdered teen had once dated.
"They were friends," Kyllonen told the Deseret News. "We do know that they had a past relationship where they did date each other at one point."
Patten was arrested after a cooperative investigation between the West Wendover Police Department, the Elko County Sheriff's Office and the FBI.
Students at the tight-knit school were devastated by the announcement, which came just hours after Costanzo's body was positively identified by police.
There are fewer than 300 students in grades 9-12 at the high school. Kyllonen said the entire student body and teachers were taking all the events from the weekend very hard.
"They're extremely tight-knit. There are students throughout the school who are upset," he said. "They're tired. Emotionally, they're spent."
Nevada Student Arrested in Schoolmate's Death
Makeshift memorials began sprouting up around campus after news of Costanzo's death was made public.
"She will be greatly missed in front of everybody," classmate Bryan Maddox told the Deseret News. "We just wish the best for her and her family."
Sophomore Yesenia Mendoza said, "It's really hard on us right now. There are no words that can explain what we're feeling. We just want to know what happened, why it happened."