"The painful discovery of Brooke's body today is tragic and heartbreaking," Col. Baker said at a news conference after the discovery of her body around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Brooke was last seen alive in public with her uncle, Michael Jacques, 42, at a convenience store a week ago. Jacques has been under arrest since last week on unrelated sex charges, police said. He is expected to be charged with kidnapping in federal court.
Sex Ring Initiation Alleged
According to court records from U.S. District Court, a 14-year-old girl, who is also a relative of Jacques, told investigators that she helped Jacques (left) trick the 12-year-old Brooke Bennett to his house on June 25 to be initiated into a sex ring.
The girl told police that after they arrived at Jacques' home, she and Brooke watched television for a time, until Jacques told her to leave. He then took Brooke upstairs. The girl said she and her boyfriend left the house and never saw Brooke again.
The same witness told authorities that she was initiated into the sex ring by Jacques when she was nine years old. She was told that she would be killed if she did not take part in the "sex training."
Stepfather Also Arrested
Also arrested in connection with the case was Raymond Gagnon, Brooke's former stepfather. He was charged with obstruction of justice and is being held without bond pending a hearing.
Investigators said Gagnon, who lives in Texas but visits Vermont regularly, got Brooke's login information from Jacques, accessed her MySpace page and altered it to appear that she was setting up a secret meeting with someone she met online.
Gagnon also admitted to having child pornography on his laptop computer.
Early in the search for Brooke, authorities announced that she may have run away to meet someone she met online. Videotape from the convenience store showed Brooke leaving in one direction and Jacques leaving in another, making it appear that she was no longer with Jacques.