A 44-year-old Tampa man has been arrested in the shooting death of a 14-year-old Hillsborough County girl, the Tampa Police Department announced Thursday night.
The body of Nilexia Alexander, a runaway from Temple Terrace, was found by the road in the 100 block of Floribraska Avenue around 4 a.m. on May 6. Days later, her mother clutched a photo of her daughter as she tearfully pleaded for help to bring her child’s killer to justice.
On Thursday, a Tampa detective met Ashley Alexander at her workplace to deliver the news she’d been waiting to hear: They had arrested the man they believe killed Nilexia.
Ashley Alexander told the Tampa Bay Times when she stepped outside Thursday after hearing of the arrest of Ronny Walker, she felt like the sky had brightened and cleared.
”I’m overjoyed, because I can say that I feel like my baby is at peace,” she said.
Ashley Alexander adopted Nilexia and her sister in 2013. She said her love for the girls grew, and over time they developed a deep bond.
After Nilexia was killed, Ashley Alexander said she feared the person who took her child’s life was freely walking the streets, and Walker’s arrest has brought her overwhelming relief.
Now, she said, she wants to know what led to her daughter’s death.
”Today, that was the best news I’ve ever heard,” Ashley Alexander said. “But I’m angry, I’m still angry. And I just want to know why.”
Detectives said the investigation showed that Walker’s vehicle was in the area during the time that Nilexia was killed, and cellphone evidence placed the girl inside the vehicle around the same time, police said in a news release Thursday night.
Evidence collected from Walker’s vehicle was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing, and it came back positive for Nilexia’s DNA, the release said.
Walker was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Thursday afternoon, police said. He faces a charge of premeditated first-degree murder with a firearm.
Walker was booked into a Hillsborough County jail, where he is being held without bond, jail records show.
The investigation is ongoing.
Police say they will provide additional details at a press conference Friday morning. Ashley Alexander and officials with Rise Up For Peace also are expected to attend, the release said.