Neighbor arrested for murder of nine-year-old Skylar Dials

Authorities have arrested the 40-year-old neighbor of young Skylar Dials in connection with her kidnapping and murder. Collett is being held without bond in the Spalding County Jail.

Authorities have arrested the 40-year-old neighbor of young Skylar Dials in connection with her kidnapping and murder. Collett is being held without bond in the Spalding County Jail.

By Sheila A. Marshall

Staff Writer

Spalding County authorities say they believe 40-year-old Shane Clifton Collett acted alone in connection to the death of nine-year-old Skylar Dials, whose body was found some ten hours after she was first reported missing.

Sheriff Wendell Beam said his office was first alerted to the young girl’s disappearance at approximately 3:45 p.m. Friday. Skylar’s aunt, with whom she lived, reported she left home around 11 a.m. to walk to a friend’s home roughly 30 to 40 yards from her own residence.

“Skylar had been given permission to go to her friend’s house to play. The family had said it was common for Skylar to walk that route to play with her friend,” Beam said. “They each walked back and forth. The houses were in clear sight of each other.”

He said the girl’s family discovered she was missing when they went to pick her up for a family outing and learned she never made it there.

“They did a quick search around the house and then they called us,” Beam said.

An intensive search ensued, with numerous law enforcement agencies – including the Griffin Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia State Patrol, the Department of Natural Resources, the Cowetta County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Pardons and Paroles – assisting in the investigation, with K9s, helicopters and heat-seeking technology being utilized.

Skylar’s body was ultimately located in a wooded area, estimated at 200 to 300 yards behind her home at about 2 a.m. Officials say this location was opposite the route she would have taken to visit her friend.

Beam said Skylar’s body was transported to the GBI crime lab for autopsy to determine the cause of death. He did acknowledge the body was clothed at the time it was located.

Asked if Collett, the alleged killer, had attempted to conceal Skylar’s body, Beam said, “Yes, it was partially hidden in a brush pile.”

Investigators are uncertain if Skylar was killed in the woods where her body was recovered or at Collett’s 678 Yarbrough Mill Road residence.

“The investigators actually just completed the process of searching the house – that scene – and we’ll know more abut that later,” Beam said.

The sheriff confirmed that Collett did not live alone.

“I understand that an adult female lives with him, but I don’t know if it’s his wife or a girlfriend, and a girl about nine- or ten-years-old,” Beam said. “She’s about the same age as Skylar. This is a young child.”

Neither the adult female or young girl with whom Collett lived were believed to be home when Skylar vanished.

Beam said GBI special agents were to conduct forensic interviews of the young girl who lived with Collett, as well as two teenagers who resided with Skylar, but as of Saturday afternoon, he had no information on their outcomes.

Collett is not a registered sex offender, nor have investigators discovered any other criminal record for the suspect, Beam said.

Collett is being held without bond in the Spalding County Jail, charged with murder, kidnapping and concealing a death. Pending results from the crime lab and the ongoing investigation, Beam said additional charges are possible.

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