Simmons charged with murder
Kimberly Cruz Waller clutched pictures of her daughter, Kaelin Rose Glazier, as she entered a court room Friday where the man police believe last saw her daughter alive was arraigned on a murder charge.
If convicted of the murder, William Frank Simmons, 30, could spend the rest of his life in prison. The murder charge carries a mandatory minimum 25-year prison sentence. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charge on May 10 in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Aside from requesting a public defender, Simmons said very little during Friday's appearance. He appeared via video arraignment.
Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston successfully requested during the arraignment that Simmons continue to be held without bail until his next court appearance.
Before the arraignment, family and friends of Kaelin gathered outside the Jackson County District Attorney's Office in support of the teenager.
Waller presented two pictures of Kaelin as a little girl clad in a white wedding dress.
"She was pretending to be a bride when this was taken," Waller said. "She was 7 years old at the time."
Waller expressed gratitude to the investigators who compiled hundreds of hours of investigation and testimony in the years since the teenager went missing.
"If anything good can come out of this is that the police have increased their training to find missing people," Waller said.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters confirmed Waller's statement shortly after the gathering.
"These types of cases remind us why we have to take any, and I mean any missing or abducted person call seriously," Winters said. "We are sending some of our investigators to St. Louis next week to train on missing and abducted children."
Kaelin was last seen alive in the evening hours of Nov. 6, 1996, at a home on Johnson Road where Simmons lived with his grandparents. They reportedly had watched a movie together when she stopped by the house on a walk from her nearby home to the Applegate Christian Fellowship in Ruch for a youth group meeting.
Her remains were discovered on April 8, 2008, in a field just across Haven Road from where Simmons lived in 1996.
Simmons has been the primary suspect since 1999, Huddleston said in a news release.
Over the years, Simmons has become familiar with Jackson County sheriff's and Medford police investigators. He has an extensive criminal history dating to 1998, when he turned 18, with convictions for first- and second-degree theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, identity theft and delivery of methamphetamine, court records show. He has been in and out of jail numerous times on probation violations.
He was arrested Wednesday night in Grants Pass on a parole violation stemming from an old drug charge. He was indicted by a Jackson County grand jury the next day.
Waller was among 36 witnesses who testified before the grand jury on Thursday. They were joined by a parade of investigators and forensic experts before the grand jury brought down the indictment.
Waller and company were joined by Huddleston as they walked from the district attorney's office to the court house. She said it was a relief that someone had finally been charged with her daughter's death.
"It's still very hard, though," Waller said. "It reminds us of what happened to Kaelin."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.