ROCKPORT, IN - Indiana State Police investigators have ruled a 15-year-old Rockport, Indiana girl's death murder. And her step father is jailed Wednesday, charged with the crime.
Friends and those who knew her describe 15-year-old Alexis Oesterle as a fun-loving, beautiful young girl. Wearing t-shirts and displaying signs in her memory, they gathered at a Wednesday afternoon news conference to confirm what many already knew.
"State Police Investigators arrested Ryan Lee Shelby for the murder of his step-daughter, Alexis Oesterle," said ISP Sergeant Chad Dick." The preliminary cause of death is loss of blood from a wound in Alexis' neck area."
"She was my best friend," Sabrina Winkler says.
Winkler and other friends who spent Sunday afternoon with Oesterle say she seemed extremely happy, and never suspected what would happen after saying goodbye to her that night.
"Her and him didn't get along. He seemed really nice but I had a weird feeling when I was around him," Winkler tells NEWS 25.
A neighborhood friend says he didn't suspect a thing
"He was always nice to me. They were always really quiet as a family. We didn't know much of them," says neighbor, Hunter Wetzel.
Investigators say Shelby is currently their only suspect and will not elaborate on a motive.
They're crediting the arrest to Deputy Jason Dunsworth, who says he conducted a full search because something in the house just didn't seem right the night Shelby reported Oesterle missing.
"Due to his extra steps of investigating the full residence, the body was discovered. Had he not done that, probably, the body would have been disposed of," Spencer County Prosecutor Dan Wilkinson says.
The search turned out to be the key to the investigation and the news that broke the hearts of Alexis Oesterle's friends and family.
Shelby will be arraigned in Spencer County Court Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Investigators say that even though he is in custody, there is still more investigating to be done.