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Man charged in Ark. child’s death said to be family friend

The body of Jersey Bridgeman was found on Nov. 20 in a vacant house two doors from her home.

BENTONVILLE POLICE DEPT./AP

The body of Jersey Bridgeman was found on Nov. 20 in a vacant house two doors from her home.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The neighbor charged in the killing of a 6-year-old Arkansas girl was a family friend, police said Tuesday.

Bentonville Police Chief Jon Simpson described Zachary Holly, 28, as ‘‘an acquaintance’’ and a family friend who is from the area. Holly is being held in the Benton County Jail on charges of capital murder, kidnapping, and residential burglary.

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Jersey Bridgeman, whose high-profile child abuse case last year sent her father and stepmother to prison, was reported missing the morning of Nov. 20. Minutes after a search for her began, Jersey’s body was discovered in an abandoned house two doors from her home in Bentonville.

Holly and his wife live next door to where Jersey was staying, police said. Court records show the couple was married in March. Holly worked at a fast-food restaurant, Simpson said.

Simpson said that the couple did not have any children, but that Holly’s wife has a child who is ‘‘pretty much the same age as our victim.’’ Simpson would not give specifics on how well the families knew each other.

When asked if Jersey and the child of Holly’s wife were friends, Simpson said, ‘‘They’re the same age; I think you could categorize them as family friends, acquaintances, all that.’’

Simpson said Monday that Holly will have a bail and probable-cause hearing Wednesday, during which a probable-cause affidavit will be released. At that point, ‘‘many questions related to this investigation and arrest will be answered,’’ Simpson said.

He would not release details of how Jersey died or what led police to Holly, nor would he discuss possible motives.

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