Detroit man accused of raping, setting fire to 5-year-old

2:51 PM, Oct 21, 2013   |    comments
  • Mariha Trenice Smith, 5, went missing sometime between 3 a.m. and noon July 25, 2011, as the little girl slept on the living room floor at her aunt's home.(Photo: FBI)
  • Virgil Mangualt, Desiree Dixon and Christepher Bohaner pay their respects July 29, 2011, at a makeshift memorial after learning that the charred remains of a little girl found in this home were those of missing 5-year-old Mariha Trenice Smith. (Photo: Jarrad Henderson, Detroit Free Press)
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DETROIT (AP) - Prosecutors have filed charges against a Detroit man they say abducted, raped and killed, then burned the body of a 5-year-old girl.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office says 22-year-old Darnell H. Cheatham is being arraigned Monday on charges of first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Cheatham took Mariah Smith from her Detroit home July 24. Authorities say the girl was strangled and her skull crushed before her body was set on fire on a mattress at a vacant house about a mile from her home.

It wasn't immediately known if Cheatham has a lawyer.

Prosecutors say Cheatham was the boyfriend of Mariah's aunt.

First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

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