Jorelys Rivera Case Study

ATLANTA –  "I didn't have, like, the intention of killing a kid," Ryan Brunn told police after he pleaded guilty to molesting a girl, slashing her throat and dumping her body in a trash bin. In a candid, three-hour interview, Brunn went into detail about how and why he lured the girl to an empty apartment — and when he made the decision to kill her.

Convicted child killers don't often agree to such frank interviews with police, and in this case, Brunn gave them a glimpse into the mind of a murderer.

"I've never done something like this in my life," said Brunn, who recounted his thoughts after the murder. "'Am I going to get caught?' I didn't think I was. I was going so crazy I left the gloves, I left the ties on the floor."

The worker gloves and plastic ties were among several pieces of evidence that linked Brunn to the Dec. 2 killing.

That evening, the apartment complex maintenance worker was able to get Jorelys Rivera's attention as she left a playground to fetch drinks for her friends. Sometime earlier, Brunn noticed the 7-year-old girl had lost a roller skate outside her apartment. He snapped a photo of it and used that image to coax the girl into a vacant unit.

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Once there, he molested her, beat her and slit her throat. For three days, police searched for Jorelys. Brunn even joined the search one evening. Investigators found her in a trash bin at the apartment complex.

Jorelys family has sued the apartment complex managers, accusing them of failing to properly check Brunn's background. The lawsuit claims Brunn was retained despite residents' complaints about him lingering at the playground watching children. A manager at the apartment complex didn't immediately return a telephone call from The Associated Press.

Brunn was in custody for more than a month before he decided to plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. About an hour after a judge handed down his punishment, Brunn sat in a cramped office and spoke with two Georgia Bureau of Investigations officers.

Two days later, Brunn hanged himself in his prison cell with a gray sweatshirt. Video of the interview was released to the news media last week.

In the interview, the investigators delved into Brunn's history and practiced different techniques to gain his trust. Sometimes they encouraged him to complete sentences and thoughts by staying quiet themselves. Other times they asked leading questions, prompting Brunn to correct them or offer more insight.

During one exchange, Brunn said it was only after the girl asked to go to the bathroom that he realized he could go to jail if he released her. It was then he decided he had to kill her.

"I know this is hard to say, but I don't think what happened would have happened if she hadn't gone to the bathroom," Brunn said.

Detailed interviews of the kind investigators conducted with Brunn can reveal patterns of behavior before, during and after a crime, said Bob Ingram, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who has conducted dozens of such interrogations.

"You can read books and you can study cases, but I think the true learning takes place when you interview the offenders after the fact," said Ingram, who teaches law enforcement interviewing techniques.

GBI Special Agent Dustin Hamby, who helped interview the 20-year-old Brunn, said he learned that young suspects should be confronted early with physical evidence to elicit a confession more quickly.

"He told us that he had resolved himself to not tell the truth, but had we put a picture or the gloves that we found at the scene that he left, that he potentially would have confessed at that point or admitted that he was involved," Hamby said.

The investigators offered their own theories when Brunn wouldn't divulge details. During one exchange, the agents pressed Brunn repeatedly on how Jorleys got deep cuts on her face and chest.

"It's either you hesitating to try to get the courage up to cut her throat or you're trying to get her to do what you want her to do or it's just plain out torture," Hamby said. "It's one of the three, and I don't know which one it is, and that's why I want to know."

Brunn insisted that he wasn't responsible for those injuries.

"What's done is done," he said. "I already went to court. But I don't know how that happened."
At times, he professed to be confused by his actions. He said he didn't know why he singled out Rivera, though he acknowledged watching her at the bus stop and being attracted to Hispanic girls. On the other hand, he sometimes had a clearer recollection, such as his insistence that he didn't have sex with the child, although he said he initially planned to do so.

Interviewing a suspect, or even a convicted killer, can be a mental game, and officers are not sure whether the person is bragging or lying.

"They don't want to tell you, but their ego sometimes overrides that. They want to say something that lets you know they're extremely clever," said Ingram, the retired GBI agent. "They don't want to get themselves in trouble but they want to get credit for what they've done."

This has taken me a couple of days to write this article. I write about a lot of children but for some reason this one really got to me and I find it hard to write about. Another child’s life stolen from her. It is just so sad.

7 year old Jorelys Rivera of Canton Georgia was playing at the playground by the River Ridge apartment complex where she lived while supposedly being watched by a babysitter. She decided to go back to her apartment to get something to drink for her and her friends but she never returned to the playground. She just disappeared. This was on December 2, 2011 at around 5 p.m.

After a few days of searching for the little girl, on December 5, the body of this child was found in a trash compactor operated only by the maintenance staff of the apartment complex. This poor precious child had injuries so severe that authorities wouldn’t even describe them at first. They said she had been beaten and stabbed and she had been sexually assaulted.

The investigation resulted in authorities finding out that Jorelys had been taken into one of the vacant apartment in the building where she was killed. They said her mouth was taped using duct tape and her hands and feet were tied with plastic ties and that her little body had been compacted by the mechanical dumpster.

Ryan Brunn, 20 years old, from Dahlonega, was arrested in Cherokee County charged with homicide and making false statements.

He worked at the apartment complex doing maintenance work and even bragged about it on his Facebook that he was able to live there free since he worked there. The strange part of this is that Brunn had actually participated in the search for Jorelys by passing out fliers with her picture on it according to other residents in the area.

One of the neighbors, Linda Hale, who lives next door to the Rivera’s said after the child was found she called the police with information about Brunn twice. She said that in the recent weeks she has spotted him driving around the playground slowly as he watched the children playing. She said it creeped her out.

Another resident, David Lott, told police while speaking about Brunn, “He was talking about how the police should be checking garages and checking cars.” He also said, “He didn’t seem like anything was wrong. He was calm and collected.”

Karla Reister said she encountered Brunn, Saturday. She said, “I told him it’s sad this little girl is missing. He said, ‘this neighborhood is bad and it’s getting worse.”

This guy is so young. What in the world could a 7 year old little girl have done to him to make him do such a horrific thing to her and then kill her? I have thought about this for a few days now and I just can’t seem accept it. He has thrown away his whole life now by doing what he has done. I just would like to know if he thinks it was worth it.

Jorelys mother, Joselin Rivera had to ask on her way to the funeral home, “Why, why. She was so innocent. Why did he take her like this?”

My heart just goes out to this child’s family. They have to live with what happened to this child. They are the ones now that will be scarred for life knowing what happened to Jorelys. That sweet little girl must have been scared to death. I can’t even imagine the fear she was going through before she died. Preliminary autopsy reports show that she died of blunt force trauma to her head and the police believe that she was dead before being put into the compactor.

Jorelys mother’s employer, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has set up a Jorelys Rivera Memorial Fund to assist the family. Anyone that wishes to donate to the fund can be contact the United Community Bank in Canton at 770-479-6700.

Brunn’s family all seem to think he is innocent. His attorney, Daran Burns says his client is “very shaken.” The police feel differently though. “We are confident that Brunn is the killer,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said. He also believes there will be additional charges from the DA’s office on Brunn too.

I pray that if Brunn is the killer that they find him guilty and that he pays with his life or at least that he is put behind bars for the rest of his life with hard labor and no benefit of parole. Anyone that can do something like this to an innocent child doesn’t deserve to ever be free again.

My thoughts and prayers are with Jorelys Rivera’s family now. I know Jorelys is sitting with God now watching down and she is no longer in any pain for God won’t let anything else happen to her now. God bless her little heart.

Jan Barrett

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