A suspect in the deaths of a Newton girl and her mother was arrested in Texas, Newton police said late Tuesday afternoon.
Alyssa Runyon, 24, a former Garden City resident, and her daughter, Zaylynn Paz, 4, were found dead in their Newton home Tuesday morning.
“This has been a day of terrible sadness for our community,” a statement posted on the Newton Police Department’s Facebook page page said.
Keith Lane Hawkins, 19, was taken into custody in Taylor, Texas — near Austin — at about 5:25 p.m., Newton police said Tuesday night. Hawkins was driving Runyon’s vehicle when he arrived at a family member’s home, police said.
“At this time, we’re not sure what their relationship was, whether it was a friendship or something else,” Kyle McCaskey, public information officer for Harvey County, said Tuesday night.
Newton Police Chief Eric Murphy said Runyon’s ex-boyfriend found her and Zaylynn dead in their bedrooms of a duplex at around 11 a.m. The daughter had stab wounds, Murphy said. Police think her mother was strangled.
“This was not a random act,” Murphy said Tuesday afternoon.
Hawkins, who lives in Florence, has family in Taylor, Texas. Police had reason to believe he was heading to Taylor, McCaskey said, which is why they announced early in the investigation they did not believe residents of Newton were in any danger.
“They were tracking him,” McCaskey said of law enforcement officials.
Investigators are combing through evidence trying to answer several questions. It’s unknown when the mother and daughter were killed. The two live at the house, but Murphy said he is unaware of any others who live in the home.
No one else was in the home when police arrived, Murphy said.
According to Garden City USD 457 officials, Runyon was a 2012 Garden City High School graduate. According to her Facebook account, she also previously studied nursing at Garden City Community College.
Friends of Runyon have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for their funerals.
Family members declined to make a statement in the wake of what happened, but a friend who knew Runyon for years sent an e-mail response to questions.
“She was a beautiful soul, amazing friend, sister, daughter and most of all a fantastic mom who absolutely loved her kids,” Leslie McKenzie said. “This is a tragedy...such a violent death, especially to a beautiful, innocent baby girl is just hard to handle.”
The GoFundMe page had raised more than $1,000 toward a $10,000 goal in less than a day.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.