After his 11-year-old stepdaughter Celina Cass disappeared in a small New Hampshire town five years ago, Wendell Noyes told reporters he had a message for her: "Get your butt home." Investigators now say that he knew she would never be coming home because he had drowned her in the Connecticut River, where her body was found six days after she was reported missing from her Stewartstown home on July 26, 2011, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. Noyes, 52, who split up with Celina's mother after the disappearance, was arrested and charged with murder on Monday afternoon, reports WCVB.
Noyes, who described Celina to reporters as a quiet girl who would never have left home on her own, had long been considered a suspect, reports NBC News. The network notes that he once behaved bizarrely in front of its cameras, crawling across the ground and pretending to chuck a grenade. His record includes a 2003 arrest for breaking into an ex-girlfriend's home and threatening her, and his pickup truck was seized just days after Celina's body was found. "What happened five years later for them to finally make this arrest when there was so much speculation around him in the first place?" a woman whose daughters were friends with Celina asks the Union Leader. "There were so many rumors and scenarios that go through people's heads in a small town."