Ryan Brunn, 20, admitted killing 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with a sweatshirt.
Ryan Brunn, 20, admitted killing 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with a sweatshirt.
PHOTO: Jessica Wagner/The Cherokee Ledger-News

Story highlights

NEW: Georgia police chief steps down after audit critical of the handling of the case

Ryan Brunn hung himself with a sweatshirt in a prison cell, investigators say

A medical examiner doesn't find any "other significant trauma" on his body

He had pleaded guilty this week to murdering 7-year-old Jorelys Rivera

(CNN) —  

Autopsy results released Friday revealed that Ryan Brunn, the Georgia man who this week admitted murdering a 7-year-old girl, committed suicide by hanging himself in a prison cell, a state agency said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in a news release, said the autopsy indicated that Brunn died of “ligature hanging and the manner of death (was) suicide.”

The 20-year-old hung himself with his sweatshirt, investigators determined. A medical examiner didn’t find any “other significant trauma on Brunn’s body.”

“The ongoing investigation by agents … has not uncovered any evidence to indicate Brunn’s death was anything other than a suicide,” the state investigative bureau said.

Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kristen Stancil had said that Brunn was found unresponsive at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in his cell at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, and was pronounced dead at a hospital at 5:37 p.m.

In a Cherokee County courthouse on Tuesday, Brunn pleaded guilty to a charge of murder in the death of young Jorelys Rivera in Canton, about 40 miles north of Atlanta. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole, avoiding a potential death sentence by lethal injection.

A maintenance worker at the same apartment complex where the girl lived, Brunn said in court that he devised a plan to lure Jorelys – whom he said he’d never talked to before – after he found one of her skates.

On December 2, 2011, Brunn took a picture of the skate and approached the girl with it, asking if the skate was hers. She said yes, and Brunn promised to take her to it.

Instead, he took her to an empty apartment and instructed Jorelys to pull down her pants. He then put tape over her face and cut her throat with a razor. At this point, she was still alive, he told the court.

Brunn said that he then took Jorelys to the bathroom and beat her to death with the skate. He said he did not have sex with the girl.

The girl’s mangled body was found in a trash compactor three days after she went missing. Two days later, Brunn was arrested. He was eventually indicted on 13 counts including murder, aggravated assault, aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes and more.

“I’d like to apologize for everything I’ve done, and I do deserve everything that you’re about to give me,” he said Tuesday in court.

Jorelys’ father, Ricardo Galarza, told CNN en Español on Thursday that news of Brunn’s death partly made him “feel good but, on the other hand, it doesn’t because my daughter will never be with me again.”

“What I wanted was for them to put him in the electric chair and burn him,” Galarza said. “I would have taken him there myself and prepared it, so he would burn.”

Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance “stepped down” on Thursday after an audit probing his department’s handling of the case, police department spokeswoman Candy Worth told CNN on Friday. The interim chief is Todd VandeZande, she and the police department’s website indicated.

The audit is dated January 12 and was conducted by Louis Dekmar, police chief in LaGrange, Georgia, and president of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Dekmar determined in the audit that Canton police violated their own policies and accepted practices. He further contended that there was a “clear absence of leadership by the agency head.”

Dekmar concluded that, by the time Jorelys was reported missing, she was most likely dead and it was unlikely police could have saved her. But he added that if Canton police take similar action in future cases they may “indeed miss an opportunity to save a victim’s life.”

CNN’s John Branch and InSession’s Jessica Thill contributed to this report.