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Remains of Girl Killed by Officer Found : Crime: The dismembered parts of the child, 3, were recovered encased in concrete in a mountainous area of Riverside County. The site was described in a videotaped confession made by the slayer, who committed suicide.

August 26, 1991|DEAN E. MURPHY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The dismembered remains of a 3-year-old girl killed by a San Bernardino police officer have been recovered encased in concrete in a remote mountainous area of Riverside County, authorities said Sunday.

San Bernardino detectives, using specially trained dogs, discovered the remains of Alicia Armstrong, the officer's foster child, early Saturday near Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains, San Bernardino police disclosed at a news conference.

Detectives said the remains were found in an area described in a videotaped confession made by the officer, Craig Armstrong, before he hanged himself on Aug. 16 with a dog leash in a relative's garage.

Police also said they were investigating whether Armstrong might be linked to other acts of violence. In searching his home, police said they found a book containing profiles of local prostitutes, including one who was murdered several years ago.

Capt. Larry Neigel said the book is intended to help vice investigators identify prostitutes, but he did not know why Armstrong--a motorcycle officer--had a copy. He said San Bernardino police are working with authorities in Riverside County to determine if there is a link between Armstrong and the murder of several prostitutes in that county.

"At this point, we do not know," he said.

In the videotaped confession turned over to police by his attorney, Armstrong said he killed Alicia while disciplining her at the family's Colton home July 28. Armstrong said in the statement that he was punishing the girl for going into the kitchen about 2 a.m., perhaps to get something to eat.

Alicia had been living with Armstrong and his wife, Tammy, who were in the process of adopting the child and her 18-month-old sister.

Neigel said the pieces of concrete were found about 2:30 a.m. Saturday spread over 100 feet in "very, very rough and rugged" terrain near a national forest fire road. The concrete pieces were not buried, and experts have advised police that it is likely animals had disturbed the remains, he said.

"There were two major pieces found, and a portion of the body was visible," Neigel said. "We believe the body was put into cardboard boxes and then filled in with cement. We found the concrete with particles of the cardboard attached."

Police turned the concrete pieces over to the county coroner to determine how much of Alicia's body was recovered. Neigel said, however, that detectives have exhausted their search for additional remains.

"There are no more locations for us to search," he said. "Friday, when the dogs arrived, we first went back to the Armstrong home to see if they alerted. They did not."

Neigel said police based their search on Armstrong's description of the dumping site in his two-hour videotaped confession.

"We are finding confirmation of his statements on the videotape," he said. "We have no reason to disbelieve his statements."

Police believe Armstrong dismembered the girl with a knife in the garage of the family's Colton home after telling his wife, a Loma Linda nurse, that the child was sleeping in a guest bedroom. Armstrong telephoned police about 12 hours after killing Alicia, reporting that she had disappeared during a visit to the Inland Center mall in San Bernardino.

About a week later, however, Armstrong, 29, became a primary suspect after investigators searched his home and found bloodstained towels and other evidence. Armstrong was a six-year veteran of the department and once appeared on the cover of a police recruitment brochure.

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