RUSKIN, Fla. -- A registered sex offender told police that he killed a 13-year-old girl who disappeared a week ago, saying he got into an argument with her and choked her to death in her home, the local sheriff said yesterday.
David Onstott, 36, was charged with first-degree murder yesterday, a day after investigators found Sarah Lunde's partly clothed body in an abandoned fish pond, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.
Sarah was last seen April 9, shortly after returning home from a church trip. Early the next morning, Onstott paid an unexpected visit to the family's home to look for Sarah's mother, Kelly May Lunde, whom he once dated, Gee said.
After Sarah let Onstott into the house, they got into an argument and Onstott put her in a choke hold and killed her, Gee said.
Sarah's 17-year-old brother came home later and found the front door wide open and his sister gone, but the family initially assumed that Sarah had gone to a friend's house. She was not reported missing until April 11.
Gee said Onstott ''went to great effort to keep her body from being discovered."
Onstott, who has a rape conviction, has been held without bail in the Hillsborough County Jail since Tuesday on unrelated charges. His attorney, Pat Courtney, did not return a phone message yesterday.
Sarah's relatives and members of her First Apostolic Church congregation turned out in droves yesterday to mourn the loss of the girl. Her young friends dropped to their knees and wept.
Among the mourners were Mark Lunsford, whose daughter Jessica was found dead last month after she was kidnapped from their Citrus County home, and Roy Brown, whose daughter Amanda was murdered in 1997 by a convicted child molester in Tampa.
Both men had lent their support to the Lunde family this past week and Lunsford had helped search for Sarah, saying some of her family had helped search for his daughter in February.