Internal report shows confusion in murdered girl case

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CANTON, Ga.,None - An internal affairs report reveals new details about the response to the disappearance of 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera.

Last week, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office punished Deputy Mathew McMullen for failing to immediately report that he and a trainee saw blood in a vacant apartment at the River Edge complex in Canton that turned out to be the crime scene where Jorelys was killed.

“I’m very disappointed that I have to stand here and discipline this police officer,” Sheriff Roger Garrison said. “He’s taking it like a man. He’s stepping up and saying, ‘I made a mistake.’”

Jorelys' body was found days after she disappeared in early December in a Dumpster at the apartment complex.

McMullen was ordered to attend additional training or face a suspension. He also was issued a 5 percent pay cut.

In the internal affairs report, investigators wrote that McMullen, “Was not even sure who was in charge of the command post when he returned” and quoted another first responder who "could not tell who was doing what."

Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance has faced criticism for how he and his department handled the initial search for Jorelys.

“It is my opinion that a review of the activities and operations of our police department as it is related to this case is in order,” Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said.

Hobgood said last week that Canton City Manager Scott Wood will be in charge of coordinating that review, but so far, there is no official time frame.

"I'm not going to be biased or prejudiced going into it. I may be biased or prejudiced coming out of it," Wood told Channel 2's Aaron Diamant.

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