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Suspect arrested in case of boy killed in public bathroom

November 16, 1998
Web posted at: 9:04 p.m. EST (0204 GMT)

OCEANSIDE, California (CNN) -- A 20-year-old man is being held on suspicion of murder in the death of a 9-year-old boy whose throat was slashed in a public restroom Saturday night.

The boy, Matthew Cecchi, was killed while his aunt waited outside the toilet, just steps from the family campsite in this town about 40 miles north of San Diego.

The suspect, Brandon Wilson of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, is a transient who has prior drug arrests, according to Oceanside Police Lt. Dave Herring.

"We're confident we have the right suspect," Herring said. He said Wilson was cooperating with investigators and had given them information that only the killer would know.

"He has made statements concerning and connecting him to this incident here in Oceanside," Herring said.

Wilson was arrested by Los Angeles police Monday while they were investigating the robbery and stabbing of a 40-year-old woman in Hollywood, according to Herring. The victim was hospitalized in stable condition.

A knife believed to have been used to kill Cecchi was recovered by Los Angeles police and is being examined by Oceanside investigators.

The boy and his family had been attending a reunion at a paid camping area at the beach at Oceanside Harbor. His aunt escorted him to the public toilet, just steps away from his family campsite, said Sgt. Tom Bussey of the Oceanside Police Department.

As the aunt waited outside, she saw a person she described as a teen-ager enter the restroom, according to police. A few minutes later the teen-ager came out, and the aunt became worried about her nephew.

She told police she went into the men's room and found Matthew on the floor, bleeding from an ear-to-ear slash across his throat.

Sgt. Tom Aguigui said the aunt and several bystanders tried unsuccessfully to revive the boy and stop the bleeding, but he died at the scene.

Investigators have no motive for the killing, Oceanside Police spokeswoman Jennifer Cundiff said. Police are awaiting test results on blood, fingerprints, hairs and fibers found at the scene.

The boy's father, Louis Cecchi, suffers from leukemia and did not attend the reunion. He was notified of his son's death by an uncle of the victim.

"He was my best friend," Cecchi said about Matthew from his home in Oroville. "He actually was my best friend."

Cecchi described his young son as an A student and a big baseball fan. Ironically, Cecchi and his wife Sharon moved from Anaheim to the small Northern California town of Oroville 10 years ago to escape urban problems.

Cecchi said they wanted "to get away from the crime, the congestion, the pollution -- so we could give our kids a better life."

Now, the Cecchis must explain Matthew's death to his 3-year-old brother.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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