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Detroit Man Charged In Rape, Murder Of 5-Year-Old Girl

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Darnell Cheatham. (Booking photo)

Darnell Cheatham. (Booking photo)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Prosecutors have filed charges against a Detroit man they say abducted, raped and killed, then burned the body of a 5-year-old girl.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 22-year-old Darnell H. Cheatham was arraigned Monday on charges of first-degree murder, torture, child abuse, arson and mutilation of a body.

Konesha Smith holds up a photo of her daughter. (WWJ Photo: Mike Campbell)

Konesha Smith holds up a photo of her daughter. (WWJ Photo: Mike Campbell)

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Cheatham took Mariah Smith from her Detroit home July 24.

Konesha Smith told WWJ that she last saw Mariha, her 5-year-old daughter, when she put her and her three younger siblings down to sleep on the floor on the first floor of their home on Burlingame in front of a fan that was in a window. She says when she woke up, the girl was missing.

Authorities say the girl was strangled and her skull crushed before her body was set on fire on a mattress at a vacant house about a mile from her home.

Mariha Smith

Mariha Smith

It wasn’t immediately known if Cheatham has a lawyer.

Prosecutors say Cheatham was the boyfriend of Mariah’s aunt.

First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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