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Teen pleads guilty to murder of 10-year-old Thornton girl Kiaya Campbell

Posted at 10:09 AM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-01 14:35:49-05

THORNTON, Colo. — The teenage boy accused of killing 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell in Thornton in 2017 pleaded guilty to the girl’s murder Friday.

Aidan Zellmer, 16, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder. Zellmer was charged as an adult after the case was transferred to adult court last year.

Kiaya Campbell went missing on June 7, 2017 after leaving her dad's home in Thornton with a 15-year-old boy. Hours later, Thornton police discovered the girl's body lying face down in the grass at a Thornton park. Zellmer was arrested three days later.

Zellmer is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017 — Campbell leaves her home with a 15-year-old friend at about 7 p.m. to head to a shopping center.

Wednesday, June 7 — At 11:52 p.m., Thornton Police Department officers rushed to Forest Drive when family members reported Campbell as missing. Originally, police said she had been separated from the 15-year-old friend in a rain storm near the 12900 block of Colorado Boulevard.

Thursday, June 8 — Through the night and early into the morning of June 8, police continued a wide search that included bodies of water.

Thursday, June 8 — AMBER Alert activated at 1:37 p.m. as concern grows and search intensifies. Police gave a new location where she had last been seen at 12466 Forest Drive.

Thursday, June 8 — AMBER Alert canceled after a resident found Campbell's body at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, June 9 — Coroner identifies the body as that of 10-year-old Campbell on Friday afternoon. The coroner affirms the cause of death was not accidental.

Friday, June 9 — At 7 p.m., Thornton Police Department officials deem the investigation a homicide.

Friday, June 9 — Hundreds of pieces of evidence have been collected, with police announcing they will be sorted and analyzed.

Saturday, June 10 — At 11:38 p.m., police arrested a 15-year-old juvenile male for investigation of first-degree murder.

Sunday, June 11 — Police release details of the arrest to the public, declining to name the teen.

Monday, June 12 — The 15-year-old appeared at a 1:30 p.m. hearing to decide where the teen will be held. The judge closed the hearing, denying media access.

Wednesday, June 14 — First-degree murder charges filed in juvenile court, however DA announces desire to see adult charges filed.

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 — The case is moved to adult court so that Aidan Zellmer can be tried as an adult.

Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 — Zellmer pleads guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.