Madyson Jordan Middleton lived with her mother Laura Jordan in the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz. The residents of the apartments, known as “the lofts,” are a close-knit, easygoing artist community where neighbors looked out for neighbors and their children.
Growing up in this environment, Maddy had a lot of freedom to play where she felt comfortable, and often played house and rode a scooter within the complex.
Maddy’s dad, Michel Middleton also lives in Santa Cruz, and describes her as a “sweet angel.” Some of his fondest memories of her were running on the beach and playing in the ocean. Friends and relatives knew the pair as “Chatty-Maddy and Daddy”, because she absolutely loved to talk.
Maddy was an intelligent, active and social child who was set to enter fourth grade at De Laveaga Elementary School in Santa Cruz in the fall of 2015.
On Sunday afternoon 7/26/15, Maddy left her apartment to play with her good friend who also lived in the complex. Because her friend was temporarily busy, Maddy decided to play by herself on her scooter. Within an hour, however, it was discovered that Maddy had disappeared, eventually spurring a massive manhunt that scoured all of Santa Cruz.
While everyone hoped upon hope that Maddy would be found alive and well, on Monday night police discovered her body hidden in a recycling bin inside the same apartment building from which she went missing.
Residents of the Tannery Arts Center were doubly shocked when police arrested one of their own for the crime. Adrian “A.J.” Gonzalez, a 15 year old neighbor and acquaintance has subsequently been charged as having lured Maddy to his apartment by offering her ice cream. He has confessed that he attacked her from behind, tied her up, beat, raped and stabbed her to death before dumping her body in the recycling bin in the parking garage downstairs.
Maddy was 8 years old.