TRUMBULL — Human remains found in a wooded area Friday are those of Alyssiah Wiley, an Eastern Connecticut State University student who has been missing since April 20, state police said Saturday.
A 30-year-old Bridgeport man was arrested in connection with Wiley’s death and disappearance Saturday afternoon, state police said.
Jermaine Richards, of 115 Beardsley Park Terrace, turned himself in to state police at 3 p.m., said Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman. He is charged with murder and first-degree kidnapping. Bail was set at $2,000,000, Vance said.
Using DNA, the Connecticut State Forensic Lab in Meriden identified the remains, state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. A post mortem examination will be conducted by the office of the Chief State’s Medical Examiner to determine the manner and cause of death.
State police searched Richards’ residence Saturday and seized “items of evidence,” Vance said.
Alyssiah’s mother, Corrinna Martin, said the family was notified early Saturday.
The family also plans to go on with a prayer gathering and march, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in Beardsley Park. The goal is to raise awareness about the case and encourage anyone with information about her disappearance to come forward and speak to police.
State police had been searching the area near Quarry Road in Trumbull for Wiley because of information they gathered during the investigation, Vance said. A cadaver dog found human remains at 10 a.m. Friday, Vance said. Other cadaver dogs alerted police to other items, which Vance would not identify.
On Saturday afternoon, the State Police Major Crime Squad entered a two-story house at 115 Beardsley Park Terrace in Bridgeport. A state police truck was parked out front, and a small, blue tent was constructed outside the house, which was surrounded by yellow tape. The house is in a neighborhood, a stone’s throw from Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo.
Vance said the remains were found on private property that has five owners. Investigators set up a perimeter and pulled out of the area, waiting for written permission from each owner to continue their search, Vance said.
Once permission is obtained, investigators plan a detailed search of the property, removing brush if necessary, Vance said. He could not provide the exact address.
Asked Friday whether anyone was being interviewed in connection with the case, Vance said, “Not right now.”
If there are any surveillance cameras on nearby buildings, Vance said, “We’ll seize them and we’ll get that.”
Kathleen Ceccarelli, who said her daughter, Kate, was once Wiley’s roommate, stood next to the car she had parked along Quarry Road, with a poster saying “Kidnapped” and featuring Wiley’s photo displayed in the back window. Ceccarelli said she has been helping Wiley’s family search for the missing student since she disappeared.
Asked why she crossed out “missing person” on the poster and wrote “kidnapped” instead, she said: “She did not voluntarily get to this spot.”
She spoke about the strength of Wiley’s family.
“They’re very, very strong Christian people. It’s amazing. I probably will convert,” she said.
“She was a bookworm,” Ceccarelli said of Wiley. “She was very, very serious. Very modest.”
The search area is about two miles from Bridgeport’s Beardsley Park.
Bridgeport is one of the last places that Wiley, an ECSU sophomore and psychology major, was known to have been before she disappeared, the source said. She was there on April 20, the same day she was seen getting into a car on the ECSU campus. It was out of character for her to disappear, officials have said.
Her long-time boyfriend of four years told police he dropped Alyssiah off at the Dairy Queen in Willimantic near her campus at 11 p.m.
The search for Wiley, who is from West Haven, has stretched from Willimantic to the southwestern coast of the state. The search included a pond in Ansonia and other nearby areas in recent days.
On Thursday the state police dive team searched Bunnell Pond next to Beardsley Park. On Friday the dive team once again used sonar technology along the Merimere Reservoir in Hubbard Park as part of their search.
— Reporters Ayana Harry, Kelly Glista, and Jenny Wilson contributed to this report.