Victim: Jane Doe

Illegal Alien Kidnaps, Rapes, and Buries Alive an 8 Year Old Girl

Perpetrator: Milagro Cunningham

Crime Description:

On May 22, 2005, Milagro Cunningham, an illegal alien from Bahama, kidnapped, raped, and buried alive an 8-year-old girl, in Lake Worth, FL.

The girl was buried under rocks and concrete blocks inside a trash bin. She told a friend that the last thing that she remembered before passing out was her attacker towering over her. Police Sgt. Mike Hall found the girl after climbing into a 25-foot-long trash bin and opening the lid to a 30-gallon recycling container. Inside, he saw the girl's hand and foot peeking out amid heavy concrete slabs. Rescuers feared the worst, but the mood turned jubilant when they saw the girl's fingers move and realized she was alive.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this child would have been dead if he didn't find her. She was dehydrated and in rough shape with pieces of cement blocks on top of her and she was face down," Sgt. Dan Boland said. "There was no way for her to get out on her own."

Authorities said the girl was found far enough from any homes that no one would probably have heard if she had cried out. The trash bin was in a fenced-off former landfill behind a park where she often played with friends.

Authorities said Milagro Cunningham, 17, confessed and was charged with attempted murder, sexual battery on a child under 12, and false imprisonment of a victim under age 13, police said.

Milagro Cunningham, a Bahamian native, escaped the notice of immigration authorities after three burglary arrests last year because his cases were handled in the juvenile justice system.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tracks the identities of everyone booked into the Palm Beach County jail to seek matches against a database of illegal immigrants.

"If he had been booked into the main jail, he would have been checked," said Art Bullock, U.S. Border Patrol chief in West Palm Beach.

Cunningham arrived in 2003 on a visitor's visa from the Bahamas and overstayed the short-term limit, said immigration spokesman Manny Van Pelt.

His juvenile court records are sealed, but acquaintances say he was on probation when he was arrested Sunday.


23MAY05, WPVI 6 News
Girl Found Buried Alive in Landfill, AP story

'Miracle' rescue of girl, 8, from landfill, AP story

24MAY05 Court TV News
Girl buried alive in Florida says attacker was last thing she recalled

26MAY05, CNN
Teen charged over girl found in landfill

27MAY05, Fox News
Suspect in Fla. Girl's Rape in U.S. Illegally, an AP story