Mujey Dumbuya, a 16-year-old Michigan teenager, had been expected to testify at the trial of a habitual offender who is accused of raping her in a school parking lot last summer.
But on Jan. 25, three days after the April 9 trial date had been set, Mujey’s family, who live near Grand Rapids, reported her missing to the police. Three days later, her body was found in a wooded area about 50 miles away, according to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
The police in Kalamazoo are investigating the death as a homicide, but have released few details and did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Quinn Anthony James, 42, the man accused of sexually assaulting Mujey in July 2017, had been free on bail after his November arrest in the case, according to WOOD-TV, an NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids. He faces four felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with someone 13 to 15 years old. Mujey was 15 at the time of the alleged offenses.
The Kent County prosecutor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
On Feb. 1, Mr. James was arrested in Wyoming, Mich., where he lives, in an unrelated case in which he is also accused of sexual offenses against a minor, according to court records. As of Friday, he was being held at the Kent County jail with bail set at $500,000.
Efforts to reach Mr. James’s family or his lawyer on Friday were unsuccessful.
Mujey was last seen on the morning of Jan. 24, and the Kalamazoo police originally reported Mujey as a possible runaway.
In a statement released to WOOD-TV, Mujey’s family said she was a “very good student who loved school.”
“Mujey was a generous, energetic young woman with a radiant smile and an adventurous spirit,” the statement said. “We are heartbroken, devastated and overwhelmed with grief.”
According to court documents, the alleged assault against Mujey occurred at Ridge Park Charter Academy, a charter school in Kentwood, Mich. She attended East Kentwood High School, about eight miles from Ridge Park. Mr. James was employed as a grounds and maintenance crew member with Kentwood Public Schools until late last year, the district’s superintendent said in letter to parents on Thursday.
“None of his job responsibilities required contact with students,” the letter said.
The school district became aware of the alleged assault in mid-November. The district immediately investigated the claim, the letter said, which led to Mr. James’s firing.
Mr. James has a criminal history dating to 1991 and had been convicted of armed robbery and being a prisoner in possession of a weapon, WOOD-TV reported.
Attempts to reach Mujey’s family on Friday were unsuccessful.
In their statement, they said she was looking forward to graduating from high school next year. “She wanted to be a police officer to help fight against social injustice, including racism,” they said.