Merced man pleads not guilty in death of Golden Valley girl
The man accused of killing a Golden Valley High School girl and leaving her body in a Mercedarea field pleaded not guilty on Friday in Merced County Superior Court.
Benjamin Herbert Goddard, 34, appeared before Judge Ronald W. Hansen on charges of murder and soliciting a minor related to the death of 17-year-old Heaven Murillo, whose badly decomposed body was found on Sept. 2, 2017, in the 100 block of Hawk Drive, according to court records and investigation reports obtained by the Sun-Star.
Goddard is scheduled to be back in court on Nov. 2.
Goddard’s arrest came after a yearlong investigation by Merced police.
Goddard reportedly told investigators Murillo stayed with him for more than two full days near an illegal marijuana cultivation site he was guarding at the south end of R Street in Merced.
The defendant supplied Murillo with methamphetamine, according to reports. He admitted, according to police, to having a sexual relationship with Murillo, saying he believed she was 20. He denied taking part in her death, police said.
Goddard told investigators he last saw Murillo when she left with someone else in a van, police reports say. Benjamin Herbert Goddard