Jorelys Galarza Rivera Jorelyspicture

Jorelys Rivera was a bright, outgoing 7-year-old girl. Jorelys was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Canton Georgia with her loving family when she was 3. They would visit friends and family regularly in Puerto Rico. Jorelys attended Canton Elementary School where she was in the first grade. She was very friendly, sweet, had lots of friends, and was loved by everyone!
On December 2, 2012 Jorelys was playing at a playground in the apartment complex where she lived. This would be the last time Jorelys would be seen alive. A groundskeeper that knew Jorelys and lived in the same complex was cleaning and found one of her roller skates he had seen her wearing before. After taking a picture of the skate to show Jorelys, he waited for her to come back to her home. He told her he had found it and if she came with him he would get it for her. This monster took her into an empty unit where he viscously raped, beat and stabbed her. He admitted to cutting her throat and striking her repeatedly with her own skate until she lost consciousness. He then wrapped her body in a sheet and used a golf cart from the complex to take her body to the trash compactor. For three days the search for beautiful Jorelys went on. On the third day a handwritten note by the killer, was found written on the back of a McDonald's receipt that read, "She's in the trash can". Jorely's body was found shortly afterwards.
Jorelys had two sisters, a very loving mother and father and many other extended family members.
Jorelys was taken back to Puerto Rico for burial. Hundreds of supporters attended the funeral and released doves and balloons for Jorelys.

Pilgrim's Pride has established a fund to help the family

After pleading guilty, Jorelys murderer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Just two days after being sentenced he was found dead in his cell from a suicide.


PENUELAS, Puerto Rico — A 7-year-old girl who was abducted and slain in Georgia was buried Tuesday in a white dress with flowers in her hair, surrounded by some of her favorite toys and what seemed like much of the population of the southern Puerto Rican town where she was born.

Hundreds of people filled Penuelas' streets walking behind a horse-drawn carriage adorned with pink and white balloons that carried the body of Jorelys Galarza Rivera to the cemetery.

More than a dozen construction workers removed their hard hats in unison as the carriage rolled past. A woman leaned against the roof of a car and cried.

At the cemetery in the town on the island's Caribbean coast, friends and family gathered around the white casket and musicians began to play.

"Mother, don't cry," the singer wailed as 24-year-old Joselinne Rivera pressed her hands onto the top of her daughter's coffin and then leaned down to kiss it.

The girl's father, Ricardo Galarza, spoke to the crowd before his daughter was buried.

"I ask all mothers in this world to take care of their children," he said. "This (death) is something that is extremely hard. Something that, quite frankly, I don't think I'm going to overcome."

Jorelys left this industrial town wedged between sea and mountains with her mother when she was 3 but had come back several times and was to spend Christmas in Penuelas with her father and extended family.

The child was last seen alive Dec. 2 when she left the playground at the apartment complex where the family was living in Canton, Georgia. Her body was found three days later in a trash bin. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed. A 20-year-old maintenance worker at the apartments was arrested and is being held without bond on a murder charge.

Luz Muniz Perez, a 44-year-old resident of Penuelas and a distant member of the victim's family, said whoever is responsible should receive the death penalty.

"People like that should not exist," she said. "To do this atrocity to a girl, that is the mentality of a person who does not deserve to be on this planet."

Hundreds of people also attended a memorial service for Jorelys in Georgia, but the family chose to bury her in Puerto Rico amid family, friends and mementos from her short life, such as her prized stuffed animals — a unicorn, Hello Kitty, a bear and a rag doll. A purple butterfly with gold glitter was painted on the side of her face.

The girls' mother said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy in their hometown.

"I'm grateful to everyone for their support," Joselinne Rivera said as she accepted condolences earlier in the packed funeral home. "I wasn't expecting it."

People from all over the island and as far as New York and Orlando, Florida, came to pay respects, and they did not even know Jorelys, said the girl's aunt, Miriam Rivera.

"I never thought people would join us in this moment of such great pain," she said.

As the casket was lowered into the ground on a sweltering afternoon, people released doves and dozens of pink and white balloons as they wiped away tears and sweat. They then walked back to the center of town behind the empty horse-drawn carriage.

Jorelys's father said he found solace in one thing: He kept his word about taking his daughter on a horse ride when she came to Puerto Rico.

"To you Jorelys, I say to you, I kept my promise," he said, then bowed his head and cried.


11ALIVE-A Gannett Company
CANTON, Ga. -- The family of 7-year-old murder victim Jorelys Rivera released a flock of doves outside First Baptist Church to symbolize her rising spirit.

The bilingual funeral service drew hundreds of mourners Saturday, just days after Rivera's body was found in a trash compactor. The young girl was snatched from a playground inside the River Ridge Apartment complex and taken to an empty apartment where she was sexually assaulted, beaten, stabbed and killed.

The girl's parents, Joseline Rivera and Richardi Galaraza, were planning to speak at the funeral service, but became too overwhelmed to go to the podium.

The parents will take their daughter's body to Puerto Rico for burial.

Friday night, hundreds of people turned out to say farewell to Jorelys and to offer comfort to her family.
The family held a visitation for Jorelys Friday evening, even as the throngs of mourners gathered for the outdoor vigil. The assembled included many entire families, with children of their own. They held candles and quietly listened as prayers and songs were offered amid the grief-stricken tears of Jorelys' mother Joselin Rivera. 

"Why, why," Joselin sobbed as she went to the funeral home. "She was so innocent. Why did he take her like this?"

As the vigil ended, balloons were released in her honor.
The man charged with killing her appeared in court for the first time Thursday.
Ryan Brunn, who lived and worked at her apartment complex, made his first appearance in Cherokee County Superior Court in an orange jumpsuit and bulletproof vest. He answered the judge's questions quietly and appeared nervous as he surveyed the crowded courtroom.
The 20-year-old suspect kept turning around to look at the crowd behind him as the judge read him his rights and reviewed the charges against him, 11Alive's Blayne Alexander reported from the courtroom.
The judge revealed that Brunn, a maintenance worker at the River Ridge Apartments in Canton, only has a 10th grade education.
Brunn's family has said he is innocent. His attorney, Daran Burns, said his client is "very shaken."
Meanwhile, Jorelys' two sisters are back with their family just days after the girl's murder. A judge awarded the family custody Thursday afternoon.
Even though the family has cooperated with police throughout the investigation, Jorelys' sisters were taken out of their mother's care over the weekend. On Sunday night, investigators searched the family's van and took evidence bags out of their apartment.
"We don't think [Jorelys'] mother had anything to do with her disappearance," Canton Police Detective Candy Worthy said. "We just think that she was not supervising well enough to keep all of the children safe."
"I am a very good mother," the girls' mother, Joselin Rivera, said Monday. "I'm a very hard-working mother. My kids have everything they need. Everything is in order. They have their room. They have their food. They don't want for anything."
The girls lived with their mom in the apartment complex where investigators believe Jorelys was killed. The father lives in Florida, but came up after Jorelys disappeared last Friday.

Ryan Brunn was arrested and charged Wednesday with Jorelys' murder and making false statements to investigators.
During the investigation and before Brunn's arrest, GBI Director Vernon Keenan had said investigators felt "very strongly" that Jorelys' killer either lived in her apartment complex or had ready access to it.
Neighbors told 11Alive's Duffie Dixon that Brunn had only recently been hired.

"We are confident that Brunn is the killer," Keenan said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon announcing Brunn's arrest. He noted that additional charges were expected from the district attorney's office.
During an interview with detectives, Brunn said he was at Walmart at the time of Jorelys' abduction and murder, 11Alive's Kevin Rowson reported.
But, after investigators checked security videos at the Walmart, Rowson reported that they were able to conclude that Brunn's alibi didn't hold up.
Only hours after Brunn's arrest his brother, Connor Brunn, spoke out in his defense.
"Ryan is my brother, and I just think he's innocent," Connor told 11Alive's Doug Richards Wednesday afternoon. "There's just no way that he would do something like this."
"This is just a big mistake," he added. "I just honestly think this is a big set-up."
Another brother, Steven Brunn, spoke with the Associated Press Wednesday night. He said Ryan "is great with kids" and has no criminal record.
Steven added that "the real person may still be out there" plotting another attack.
Both Connor and Steven Brunn live in Dahlonega, where Ryan lived until a month ago. He moved to Canton to take a job as a maintenance worker at the apartment complex where it's believed Jorelys was killed.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, GBI Director Vernon Keenan said preliminary autopsy results showed Jorelys died of blunt force trauma to her head. She was also stabbed and sexually assaulted.
The autopsy suggested Jorelys was killed within 1.5 hours of her disappearance.
She was last seen at about 5 p.m Friday afternoon at a playground in her apartment complex. Canton Police said Jorelys had gone home to get a drink.
She never came back.
While investigators are still working on the timeline surrounding Jorelys' death, they believe she was abducted near the playground and taken to a vacant apartment, where she was assaulted and murdered.
Her body was found Monday in a dumpster from the apartment complex. Investigators said it had been located right across from Brunn's apartment.
While investigators had searched other dumpsters in the complex over the weekend, the contents of the dumpster where her body was found were compacted and could not be searched until the owner of the dumpster moved it to another location. Investigators found Jorelys' body while sifting through the dumpster's contents in an open field off Reinhardt College Parkway Monday afternoon.
"The state crime lab has much evidence that they are still processing," Keenan said Wednesday. While he would not specify what kind of evidence he was referring to, on Tuesday he mentioned DNA evidence, including what appeared to be blood.
Keenan said investigators had enough evidence to arrest Brunn Wednesday but noted that the case is far from over. "This investigation will continue on for several months," he said.
More than 60 members of the Canton Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, GBI and FBI have been working around the clock on the case, interviewing hundreds of people.

Keenan said one of the first things investigators did was interview registered sex offenders in the area. The GBI director said there was no reason to believe any of them was involved in Jorelys' disappearance and death.
However he added that anyone else who might have had a hand in her death would be held to account.
He said investigators began tracking Brunn Tuesday night based on tips from the public. A $15,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Jorelys' killer.
Keenan said while the GBI was not aware of any past criminal record for Brunn, investigators are piecing together what he has been up to for past several years in other states. 

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Canton Police at (770) 721-7852.

Police weren't able to issue a Levi's Call when Jorelys first disappeared because no witnesses came forward to confirm an abduction and there were no descriptions of a suspect or vehicle.
Investigators nonetheless treated Jorelys' disappearance as an abduction, pulling resources from across the state and even calling in the FBI.

Hours before Jorelys' body was found Monday, her mother Joselin Rivera pleaded for her daughter's safe return.
"She's innocent," she said. "She's a little angel. She doesn't know what she's doing. She doesn't know why they took her. Give her back."
Joselin remembered her daughter as "friendly, sweet, had a lot of friends and everyone just loves her."
Jorelys' mom said that she hadn't seen her daughter since leaving for work Thursday night.
"She gave me a kiss and told me that she loved me a lot," Joselin said, adding that by the time she got home Friday morning, Jorelys had already left for school.
The girl had been in the care of a teenage family friend when she disappeared from the playground Friday.
"There were several kids out there playing. Why her?" her mother asked. "I feel destroyed."

The 7-year-old went to Canton Elementary School. The Cherokee County School District issued this statement shortly after investigators announced her death Monday afternoon:
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic and untimely death of Canton ES first-grade student, Jorelys Rivera. Additional counselors and other support staff are being provided at Canton ES to assist students and staff. The Cherokee County School District continues to cooperate with local and state law enforcement agencies relative to the ongoing investigation. The School District does not and will not comment on ongoing police investigations; accordingly, all questions in this regard should be directed to the Canton Police Department."
A letter was also sent home to inform parents about Jorelys' death.
Her mother's employer, Pilgrim's Pride, has established a fund to help the family.

Contributions to the Jorelys Rivera Memorial Fund may be made through the United Community Bank in Canton.
United Community Bank
2215 Riverstone Blvd.
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 479-6700


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