Panama City Police detectives say 33-year-old Matthew Caylor has confessed to killing 13-year-old Melinda Hinson.
Hinson’s body was discovered at the Value Lodge Motel in St. Andrews on Thursday, in the room where Caylor was staying.
Once Panama City Police identified 33-year-old Matthew Caylor as their suspect in 13-year-old Melinda Hinson’s murder, they didn't have to go far to find him.
Hinson is in the Bay County Jail, after being arrested around midnight Tuesday night in connection with a home invasion on Panama City Beach. Bay County sheriff's officials say he tried to assault the two women who lived in the townhouse. They managed to escape.
The home invasion happened just a few hours after Melinda Hinson was killed. When Panama City detectives questioned Caylor Thursday night, they say he confessed to Hinson’s murder.
"We're confident we have the correct man in jail and the evidence and confession point to that," Panama City Police Chief John Van Etten said.
Police say Hinson left the Value Lodge room she shared with her parents to walk a neighbor's dog. She never made it. Detectives believe Caylor kidnapped the girl sometime between 6 and 7PM Tuesday night and took her to his room.
According to the arrest affidavit, Caylor raped Hinson, and then began choking her with his hands. When she resisted, he used a telephone cord to strangle her, then shoved her body under the bed.
Some of the other guests at the Value Lodge say they too had recent run-ins with Caylor.
"He was like, ‘hey what's up’, just talking. And he was like, ‘do you want to have sex’. I said ‘no’, and then he was like, ‘you want a beer’? I'm like ‘no’ and then I left," said Karla, a 14-year-old who Caylor allegedly approached.
"I used to take my brother and sister up here swimming and my daughter and it just really scares me that this kind of stuff goes on," William Hinton, a concerned parent said.
"I assure you that we view him as one of the most dangerous of offenders and we will bring every resource to bear to assure the most severe punishment possible," State Attorney Steve Meadows said.
Caylor is a registered sex offender in Georgia.
He is being charged with murder, sexual battery, and failing to register as a sex offender.
He was already charged with home invasion robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and failure to register as a sex offender, from the Panama City Beach incident.