IBERIA, Mo. (AP) – Authorities charged a central Missouri man with first-degree murder after a 13-year-old girl who had been reported missing was found dead on an unoccupied farm.
Steven Neal Henderson, 30, of Iberia was charged in the Saturday stabbing death of Macala Shelton, according to court records released Monday.
Authorities said Henderson lived at the same address as the teenager. A probable cause statement by the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Henderson acknowledged killing the girl with a large survival knife and told authorities where to find the weapon.
The Miller County sheriff’s office said Sunday that Macala’s body was found in a wooded area on an unoccupied farm. The first-degree murder charge against Henderson also was dated Sunday.
No one answered a phone call Monday at a number listed as Henderson’s address. Henderson, who is being held in the Miller County jail, filed an application Monday to be represented by a public defender but one had not yet been assigned, according to online court records.
Henderson is the brother of Macala’s stepfather, said Betty Cochran, a neighbor who had interacted with the family.
Macala had moved to Iberia this past school year with her stepfather and siblings after her mother was deployed by the military, Cochran said. They lived with the stepfather’s parents and his siblings, she said.
Macala played softball and liked to read, Cochran said.
“They’ve been good neighbors, they’re friendly people. And them kids, I just love them all,” Cochran said. “It sure has been a thing for me to swallow. It’s been a hard thing for me to take.”
A probable cause statement written by a Miller County sheriff’s detective said more than 20 firearms were found during a search of the residence where the family lived.