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Man indicted in the slaying of 9-year-old

A grand jury Friday handed up a first-degree murder indictment against Dale Morris Jr. in the Oct. 3 stabbing death of his 9-year-old neighbor Sharra Lee Ferger.

Prosecutors charge that Morris, 45, stabbed the east Pasco girl 30 times, sexually assaulted her and "inflicted a tremendous bite mark on her left shoulder."

It was evidence of that bite that led detectives to Morris. Authorities had asked men in Sharra's neighborhood to provide bite samples for comparison.

Morris, held without bail in the county jail since his arrest Oct. 16, lives four doors from the Fergers' house in the rural Blanton community near Dade City.

Dr. Kenneth Martin, a forensic dentist whose offices are in Holiday, presented testimony to the 18-person grand jury. He declined to comment Friday as he left the county courthouse in New Port Richey.

Prosecutors, citing the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, declined to speak about the case.

In addition to the bite mark evidence, detectives said they have other physical evidence linking Morris to the killing. They have not elaborated.

Sharra was last seen by her mother, Karen Ferger, about 11 p.m. Oct. 2 before leaving for the late shift at Lykes Pasco, where she operates a forklift. Sharra was reported missing the next morning when her mother returned from work.

That afternoon, Sharra's body was found in a field a block from her house. She was naked from the waist down. The medical examiner determined she died between midnight and 3 a.m. Oct 3.

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Information from Times files was used in this report.

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