Ex-boyfriend arrested in death of teen girl found in ditch

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

EL MIRAGE – A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in the death of his 15-year-old girlfriend, whose body was found by kids in an El Mirage ditch.

Officers responded to the area of 126th Avenue and Thunderbird Road on Wednesday after two boys discovered the teen’s body and told an a woman at a nearby business who then contacted police.

Officers say the Iva Rae Herman’s body was partially-clothed and, based on the location and condition of the body, detectives investigated her death as a homicide.

An autopsy conducted by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the girl died of multiple blunt force traumas.

During the investigation, police say Herman’s mother contacted them and said her daughter had not returned home from school that day. Officers spoke to the mother and determined the victim matched the girl’s general description. It was later confirmed the body was that of Herman.

Investigators say the victim was last seen at about 3:30 p.m. at the El Mirage Library with her ex-boyfriend, Thomas James Odom. Police confirmed they were seen leaving the library together and walking towards the area where her body was found.

Officials obtained a court order on Thursday in order to get a DNA sample from Odom. The teenage boy was taken into custody without incident just before 2 p.m. Thursday near Thunderbird Road and Luna Street.

Investigators say they found numerous bruises, scratches and abrasions on the boy’s upper body. Detectives say all of the wounds appeared fresh. Odom chose not to answer investigator’s questions at that time.

The boy is at the Juvenile Detention Center and faces one count of first-degree murder.