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Teenage boy held in the death of his cousin

Albuquerque police investigate in the area of Dry Gulch SW, near Unser and Gibson, after a girl was found dead in a nearby arroyo on Saturday morning. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police say a teenage boy who told his family he had “lost it” and “I killed her,” led officers to the partially clothed, blanket-wrapped body of his cousin – a young girl found in an arroyo in Southwest Albuquerque before sunrise Saturday.

Jeramiah Morfin, 15, has been booked into the Juvenile Detention Center on an open count of murder and tampering with evidence in the girl’s death, the city’s first homicide case of the year.

Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Simon Drobik did not identify the girl or say how she died, but did say detectives have chosen not to release her age, referring to her as a “juvenile.”

Police say Morfin’s mother called police after he wrote a note that said he killed the girl. Morfin later led detectives to the girl’s partially clothed body in a nearby arroyo, and medical investigators found trauma to her body and evidence of a possible sexual assault.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, officers responded to a missing child call around 5:45 a.m. at Morfin’s home in the 2200 block of Dry Gulch SW, near Unser and Gibson.

Morfin’s mother told police that her niece was nowhere to be found and that Morfin had given her boyfriend a note that read: “I finally lost it so many things happen and I attacked her because I could’en (sic) think striaght (sic) and everything that had happened was because of my past I killed her.”

Morfin told police “he did something bad” and he couldn’t remember in which drainage tunnel he left the girl.

Police say he led officers to a ditch near Silver Tree and Blake SW, where they found the body.

According to the complaint, the girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Morfin’s mother told police her niece was at the home for a sleepover Friday and was in the living room when the mother went to bed around midnight.

Police say the mother checked on the children around 3 a.m. but couldn’t find her niece. She found Morfin showering, cleaning his room and doing laundry, “which was unusual.”

Morfin’s mother told police she felt her son “had done something” and saw him writing something on a piece of paper before she went to look for her niece in the neighborhood.

According to the complaint, Morfin gave the note to his mother’s boyfriend and said he had thrown the girl’s belongings in the trash bin.

When police questioned Morfin later, he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and the interview was ended.

Saturday afternoon, police tape still blocked off both ends of Dry Gulch, and APD vehicles and its mobile crime lab were parked inside the perimeter.

Joseph Jackson, who lives in a nearby home, said he hadn’t been awakened by the commotion early this morning.

The neighborhood near where the body was found is mostly made up of stuccoed, single-family homes.

“That makes me want to cry,” said Jackson, who lives with his sister and young niece, upon learning of the murder. “That’s so scary. It’s just right down the street.”

Journal staff writers Pilar Martinez and Maddy Hayden contributed to this report.