Mar 31, 2009 9:40 PM by David Ortiviz
The Pueblo County coroner has confirmed that Ashley Patterson, 14, was murdered. An autopsy performed Tuesday pinpointed the cause of death as strangulation and/or suffocation. Ashley was found in a Pueblo West field Sunday with a produce bad over her head, her body stuffed into a black trash bag.
A neighbor of Ashley, Paul Wayne Stark, was arrested on suspicion of first degree murder Monday. He's being held on a $1 million bond.
Patterson went looking for rocks in field across the street from her house and never returned home. Shelli Martinez, a neighbor says she saw Patterson just two hours before she was killed. Patterson went to Martinez's home to play with her daughter and give her a necklace. "She was very loving and trusting, she trusted everybody. She went around all the time to pick up aluminum cans, she was just a loving little girl. She would always come over to help us sweep and clean," said Martinez.
The young girl's death has sent shock waves throughout the community. "We were horrified," said Martinez.