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Little girl’s ‘murder’ proves to be accidental death, police say

June 23, 1997

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The death of a 7-year-old girl this month ignited public outrage and threats of vigilante justice against the killer. Now police say the girl was not a crime victim after all.

Police initially believed Liliana Barbara Cepeda Casado had been beaten to death on June 8, after disappearing from the beach where her family was spending the afternoon. The little girl’s body was found at an abandoned swimming complex the next day.

On Sunday, however, police said the story had changed. The girl’s 10-year-old brother admitted Liliana accidentally fell to her death while they were playing in the building.

``For fear of being punished, he invented the story that she was kidnapped,″ Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo said. ``Everything suggests that it was an accident.″

Initial news of the girl’s death had caused public outrage in this U.S. commonwealth.

One prison-based group said it would track down the killer and murder him. When suspects were brought in for questioning, people pounded on the sides of the van carrying them into the police station.

Update hourly