The death penalty would be “fair” for the man charged with the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old Florida girl, the girl’s mother said Monday.
“Right now, I think it’s fair that he gets the death penalty,” Diena Thompson told TODAY’s Ann Curry Monday via satellite from Jacksonville, Fla. “I think the only way he’s going to repay society for what he took away from society is to give up himself.”
Thompson’s daughter, Somer, disappeared in October after running ahead of her twin brother and older sister as they were walking home from school. Two days later, her body was found in a Georgia landfill some 50 miles away from her suburban Jacksonville home.
‘We got you’
It took five months for police to arrest a suspect, but investigators are confident that 24-year-old Jared Mitchell Harrell is the person responsible for the crime. Harrell had been living with a relative in a brick home just five minutes away from Somer’s home at the time of the murder.
Originally from Mississippi, he had returned to that state, where he was arrested on Feb. 11 on child pornography charges that were filed in Florida. Harrell had been a person of interest in the Somer Thompson case before being charged with her abduction, assault and death last week. Without being specific, investigators said the evidence against Harrell includes DNA and his own statements.
Thompson dabbed constantly at her eyes and choked back tears as she talked to Curry about the agonizing five months between Somer’s murder and Harrell’s arrest.
“I’m happy to know that there’s someone charged and arrested in my daughter’s murder. But there’s just a gamut of emotions that go through you. It’s so hard to explain exactly how you feel in a situation like this, but definitely I was happier this weekend than I’ve been in a really long time,” Thompson said.
‘We miss her’
The grieving mother wore a large button with Somer’s picture on her left shoulder. The picture was decorated with purple ribbons, Somer’s favorite color.
“She was a beautiful, wonderful child that had a twin brother who’s going to miss her a whole lot, along with the rest of her family and community,” Thompson said. “We miss her and love her.”
Harrell is charged with capital crimes, but prosecutors have not yet given any indication whether they will seek the death penalty once he goes to trial. Thompson said that while she favors the death penalty for him now, her feelings may change as she learns more about him and what happened to Somer, who died of asphyxiation.
“I don’t know how I’m going to feel in one to four years from now, when a trial may come about,” she told Curry.
Help for others
Harrell has been described as a “computer whiz.” He had moved in with his aunt in Thompson’s neighborhood after being thrown out of an apartment by roommates who called police to report they had found child pornography on his computer