Man, 18, arrested in stabbing death of girl found dead in Mercer trash facility

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An 18-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in Youngstown, Ohio, in the death of a girl found last week at a solid-waste transfer facility in Mercer County, the Austintown, Ohio, police chief said.

Ricki D. Williams IV, 18, of the Youngstown area was arrested around 6 p.m. for aggravated murder and kidnapping, with more charges to be filed, Chief Robert Gavalier said. Mr. Williams will be held at the Mahoning County Justice Center, he said.

Gina Marie Burger, 16, of Austintown died of a stab wound to the chest on June 23, Mercer County coroner J. Bradley McGonigle said.

She was last seen alive at 8 p.m. that day when she left her apartment in Compass West, a subsidized complex, on foot. Her mother reported her missing three hours later, Chief Gavalier said.

Mr. Williams is believed to have kidnapped Gina after she left her home and held her at a second location in the complex where she was killed, the chief said. It is unclear how long she was alive after being taken by Mr. Williams, though Chief Gavalier said it "wasn't that long."

A motive is unclear, the police chief said. None of Gina's personal items were taken, and while she may have been "pushed around a bit," she was otherwise unharmed, he said.

Mr. Williams and Gina knew each other through mutual acquaintances in the complex, the chief said.

"They had no other relationship that we know of," he said.

There are no other suspects in the girl's slaying, Chief Gavalier said, and there is "no remaining threat."

He said a county prosecutor advised him to not disclose how the girl's body was moved from the complex to the Mercer trash site.

An employee at a Tri-County Industries Inc. facility in Pine spotted Gina's body about 3 p.m. June 25 as he was sifting through heaps of waste with a bucket loader, Pennsylvania state police said. She could have arrived anytime between the early morning of June 24 and when she was discovered, Pennsylvania State Police trooper Dan Kesten said.

Hundreds of trucks enter and exit the transfer facility on a weekly basis from as far north as Erie, as far east as Clarion and as far west as Youngstown, Ohio. Compass West dumpsters are emptied at the site.

Investigators were able to identify the teen by tracing numbers listed on steel rods surgically placed in her back to a facility in Texas, where the operation took place, Mr. McGonigle said.

 

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Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published July 1, 2014 9:29 PM


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