Parents of murdered 3-year-old thank community for support - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Parents of murdered 3-year-old thank community for support

Shawn Morgan Shawn Morgan
Breeann Rodriguez Breeann Rodriguez
SENATH, MO (KFVS) - The parents of a murdered 3-year-old Senath girl thanked the community for its support after the man charged with her murder pleaded guilty.

Shawn Morgan pleaded guilty Monday to the August 2011 kidnapping and murder of 3-year-old Breeann Rodriguez, according to Dunklin County Prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff.

Morgan pleaded guilty to first degree murder, child kidnapping, and armed criminal action.

He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder, life for the kidnapping and 10 years for the armed criminal action charge. The sentences will run concurrently.

"There are no words, but I think it's a good decision for our kids," said Claudia Ramos, Breeann's mother. "We don't want to go through pain again."

"We discussed it with Mr. Sokoloff on more than one occasion," said Edgar Rodriguez, Breeann's father. "We didn't arrive at the decision lightly. It's not something that you just wake up one morning and say this is what we want. We put a lot of thought into it."

"I have always been a strong supporter of the death penalty in appropriate cases, but it is not always the case," Sokoloff said. "I know that there is not real closure, but we know that this defendant will not be in any capacity to hurt someone again."

Rodriguez says he and his wife agreed with the plea agreement because they feel it was the best decision for their four other children between the ages of three and 11.

"You try to keep them from it as much as you can, but they go to school," Rodriguez said. "They listen. They hear and you notice a change every time something comes up. And it was never a good change. So you try and maybe this way the change will stop and they can move forward with life."

"I always talk to them about that she's waiting and we all have our time," Ramos said.

Breeann and her bike went missing on August 6, 2011 in front of her home on Ode Johnson Road in Senath.

"We've looked in everybodys' backyards," Senath's Police Chief in 2011, Omar Karnes said. "Sheds, under vehicles, anything. Ditch banks. Fence rows. Cotton fields."

According to the probable cause statement, Morgan suffocated the girl using a white plastic trash bag. He told police "he felt like it took an hour for the girl to die."

[Read the probable cause statement(pdf).]

Morgan told police he put the her body in the same trash bag, drove to the floodway ditches of Hwy. 164 and threw her over the railing.

When Morgan came back to his house, he took apart her bicycle and threw it in the same river system, according to court documents.

Breeann's body was found Aug. 16, 2011 by a member of the Missouri Highway Patrol's water patrol division who was searching by boat.

"We feel a little better because they found her," Ramos said in 2011. "Now we know she's not suffering."  
"If they're happy with it just hopefully we can all apply a Bandaid and try to make that a fix, but the best fix would be for it to never happen," said Chuck Clark with the Senath Fire Department. He was part of the search for Breeann in 2011. "But it did and now justice has taken its process and now we have to try to heal and hold each other up and move on."

"In history if we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it I hope people will learn from this," Clark said. "We don't live in Mayberry anymore. This is not Mayberry anymore and there are people that do things to children and we have to instruct children that they can't trust strangers or the guy next door sometimes."

"It's a good feeling that people haven't forgotten," Rodriguez said on Tuesday. "The community has been helpful in every which way they can. We met a lot of great people through this, a lot of helpful people that would do anything they can to help us out. We just want to show our appreciation. It's hard. I couldn't imagine going through it without the community being there. We really do appreciate everything everybody has done. I can't say how grateful we are."

"Feels like a big family," Rodriguez said. "So we just want to say thank you to everybody."

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.
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