Updated at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
(AP) The man charged with abducting, raping, and killing a 15-year-old newspaper carrier from his neighborhood has confessed to investigators, a court document stated.
During questioning, Jeffrey A. Hessler admitted he picked up Heather Guerrero as she delivered papers before dawn Tuesday, had sex with her, drove her to an abandoned house about 12 miles from Gering, and shot her, the document said.
Hessler, a security guard at Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff, said he tossed Guerrero’s belongings out of his car as he drove back to Gering, according to the document. Authorities continued to search for her clothes and her canvas newspaper bag.
He was arraigned Thursday in Scotts Bluff County Court on charges of murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, and use of a firearm to commit a felony.
Hessler, 24, was being held without bail in the county jail. A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 25.
Guerrero’s body was found Wednesday in the abandoned house. She died from a single gunshot to the head.
Hessler lived with his parents about a block from the Guerrero home, where about 1,000 people turned out for a candlelight vigil Thursday night.
One of those attending the vigil was Shayla Alex, who used to baby-sit for Guerrero and grew up with Hessler.
“It’s been a hard pill to swallow,” Alex said. “I feel like this is still my neighborhood. These are my roots. I wanted to be here to show support for Heather’s family. My heart also goes out to (Hessler’s) parents, as well.”
Last August, another 15-year-old girl delivering the same newspaper, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, was sexually assaulted, police said. That case remains unsolved, and authorities said they are investigating whether Hessler could be involved.