Criminal Complaint Filed Against Uncle of 5-Year-Old Girl Found Decomposing in Apartment

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced today that a criminal complaint has been filed against the uncle of a 5-year-old girl whose body was found decomposing in a Phoenix apartment last week.

The complaint has been filed against 47-year-old Leonard Orta Jr, alleging first degree murder, child abuse, and abandonment or concealment of a dead body.

Prosecutors believe that it was Orta's negligence that lead to the death of his niece, 5-year-old Kaiya Kapahu.

Kapahu, who suffers from a rare medical condition called Rett Syndrome, which is similar to autism and prevented her from speaking or walking, was sent to Phoenix from Hawaii to live with Orta so she could receive treatment she couldn't get on the island.

Since July of 2009, Kapahu was in Orta's care and lived with him and her grandfather, Orta's father, in a Phoenix apartment.

Police believe that over a month ago, Orta stopped giving the girl her medications and eventually stopped feeding her.

According to police reports, Orta says the girl died ten days later.

Kapahu's body wasn't found until nearly a month later, when police found it decomposing in a bedroom of the apartment.

The grandfather contacted police when he claimed he hadn't seen Kapahu in over a month and smelled a foul odor coming out of the room.

"We appreciate the efforts of Phoenix Police in making this arrest and our office will work
to make certain this case is properly prosecuted," County Attorney Andrew Thomas says in a statement.

Thomas plans to run for attorney general. That being the case, that generic, unenthused statement was all he could muster when a guy allegedly starved and kept medication from a handicapped 5-year-old? He's probably got a lot on his mind, ya know, handpicking his successor and all.

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James King
Contact: James King