ORANGE PARK, Fla. — The man accused of killing Somer Thompson, who vanished while walking home from school in north Florida, told police he was with his mother at her home the afternoon investigators say the girl went missing, according to police reports and other records.
The records released Thursday mostly involve unrelated child pornography charges against Harrell, including background on past investigations into specific images reportedly found on Harrell's computer.
Authorities redacted portions of Harrell's statements to police, but the documents show he told police he was with his mother at her Orange Park house Oct. 19 in the hours after the 7-year-old girl disappeared on her walk home from school. Her body was found in a Georgia landfill two days after she vanished.
Harrell's mother told police she was with him at the home for an hour before they left the house, had dinner together and then split up.
Harrell, a 24-year-old unemployed restaurant worker, is being held without bail. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexually assaulting and killing Somer. He was already in custody when he was charged March 26.
Harrell was first jailed in Mississippi Feb. 11 on the child pornography charges. His roommates in north Florida told investigators in August that they had kicked him out for stealing a music player. Harrell reportedly left behind his computer and a box of compact discs, planning to retrieve them later. The roommates decided to search the computer, claiming they had been told Harrell had possibly downloaded child pornography in the past.
After finding what appeared to be child porn, the roommates turned the computer over to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The case was then turned over to the Clay County Sheriff's Office. Investigators with the Florida Attorney General's CyberCrimes Unit reported finding numerous images of child pornography and child erotica, as well as several movies.
When questioned about the images in August, Harrell reportedly told investigators that his former roommates were trying to set him up. He made similar statements to investigators in Mississippi after his arrest in February.
The parents of one the roommates approached Clay County detectives in October, when authorities were operating a command post near Somer's home. They told the detectives that Harrell had recently moved in with his parents, who lived nearby, and was already being investigated for child pornography charges. The roommate's parents added that Harrell's parents had recently moved out and that Harrell was living alone.
According to the records, detectives first interviewed Harrell about Somer on Oct. 30. They also searched the home and property, but they spotted nothing suspicious. No other details of the interview were included in the records.
A message left for Harrell's attorney through a spokesman for the public defender's office was not immediately returned.
Information from: The Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com