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Ryan Brunn dead; Confessed Jorelys Rivera killer hanged himself with sweatshirt, GBI says

6:09 PM, Jan 20, 2012   |    comments
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Video: 11pm Jan.19, 2012: Jorelys Rivera Murderer Commits Suicide

Ryan McCabe Brunn (Photo provided by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

DECATUR, Ga. -- Ryan Brunn, the man who confessed to killing seven-year-old Jorelys Rivera, hanged himself with a sweatshirt in his cell at the Jackson State Prison, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement emailed to 11Alive News.

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An autopsy on Brunn's body was performed Friday at the GBI Crime Lab in DeKalb County, less than a day after Brunn was found dead in his prison cell.

"The ongoing investigation by agents from the GBI's Milledgeville Regional Office has not uncovered any evidence to indicate Brunn's death was anything other than a suicide," a GBI statement said.

"The medical examiner found no other significant trauma on Brunn's body," the GBI said.

Brunn was found dead in his cell at the Jackson State Prison Thursday afternoon.

Brunns lawyers as well as the G.B.I. said they saw no indications that the 20-year-old was suicidal prior to his transfer to prison.

"I've seen Mr. Brunn shed tears," said attorney Daran Burns. "I've seen him upset, but certainly nothing that would lead me to believe that he had any suicidal thoughts."

"A couple of our agents interviewed him for a couple of hours after his guilty plea," said G.B.I. spokesperson John Bankhead. "He showed no indications of being suicidal. This was a big shock to us."

Brunn's body was delivered to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab at 1:45 a.m. Friday.  By 10:15 a.m., the autopsy had began.

Thursday evening, Jorelys' father, Ricardo Galarza, told CNN that news of Brunn's death partly made him "feel good but, on the other hand, it doesn't because my daughter will never be with me again."

"What I wanted was for them to put him in the electric chair and burn him," Galarza told CNN. "I would have taken him there myself and prepared it, so he would burn."

Brunn was on suicide watch in Cherokee County until about a week before his guilty plea.

"Typically someone comes into custody and its a case of this nature, as a matter of precaution, the detention center will have them on watch for their own safety," Burns said.

Late Friday, the Department of Corrections issued a statement saying Brunn was not placed on suicide watch when he was transferred to prison.

"He was interviewed by mental health staff on Wednesday and was not placed on suicide watch based on the counselor's findings," a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections said Friday.

"He was placed in a segregation cell by himself for his safety," the Department of Corrections spokesperson said.

"There's really nobody to blame here," Burns said Friday.  "This is all on Ryan Brunn."

PHOTOS | Jackson State Prison

Brunn, the apartment maintenance worker charged with murdering seven-year-old Jorelys Rivera, pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him Tuesday afternoon.

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His attorney confirmed Wednesday that Brunn has moved to Jackson State Prison in Butts County to serve his sentence.

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Brunn had 30 days to change his mind about the guilty plea, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead. After those 30 days, the case would have been closed by the GBI.

During the court hearing, Brunn provided his own graphic account of the murder of Rivera.

Brunn said he found one of Jorelys' roller skates.  He took a picture of the skate with his cell phone and then hid it in a vacant apartment.  "I was going to lure her in for sex," Brunn told the court.

Brunn went on to recount for the court how he murdered Jorelys -- cutting her throat, wrapping her in a garbage bag and then beating her with her own roller skate.  He the dumped her body in a large trash compactor on the apartment complex grounds.

Brunn also described how he helped search for the girl in the following days.  "I helped them look for that child, the idiot that I am," he said.

During a news conference following the hearing, law enforcement investigators detailed the mountain of evidence that they had against Brunn, including her DNA on his belongings.  Investigators also found his fingerprints all over the crime scene.

Brunn was indicted last week. He was charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, cruelty to children, aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, false imprisonment, abandonment of a dead body, making a false statement and sexual exploitation of children. 

He was a newly hired maintenance man at the River Ridge apartment complex in Canton where Rivera disappeared the night of December 2, 2010.

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Law enforcement officials, friends and ordinary citizens searched for days in and around the complex looking for Rivera.

Investigators later found Rivera's body in a large automated trash compactor on the property.

The indictment details some specifics in the case, saying Brunn used both a "hammer-like object" and a knife to beat, stab and kill Rivera.

In count 5, the indictment said the cruelty included binding Rivera "...with plastic ties and by placing a rag into [her] mouth...and by placing duct tape over [her] mouth."

According to the indictment Brunn lied when asked by investigators whether he had been to the dumpster the night of Rivera's disappearance.

Brunn is charged with sexual exploitation of children because investigators say they found items in his possession that depicted sexually explicit conduct involving a female child under 18.

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