West Wendover students mourn killing of popular classmate

Mar 7 2011 - 2:07pm

WEST WENDOVER, Nev. -- A high school senior was arrested Monday as a suspect in the killing of a 16-year-old classmate whose body was found in a shallow desert grave near the Utah-Nevada line.

West Wendover police said they arrested Kody Patten, 18, at about 2 a.m. and booked him into the Elko County Jail for suspicion of open murder. He was being held without bail in the death of Micaela "Mickey" Constanzo, a popular student-athlete at West Wendover High School who disappeared after track practice Thursday afternoon.

School officials confirmed the two knew each other but released no other details.

"You are talking about a school of 300 kids so they all kind of know each other," Vice Principal Craig Kyllonen told The Associated Press on Monday. He said he could not confirm earlier reports that the two had once dated, but he knew the suspect currently has a different girlfriend.

The Las Vegas Review Journal's Nevadapreps.com website listed Patten as a member of the school's football team during his sophomore year in 2008-09. The roster showed him as a 6-foot, 170-pound lineman at the time, but it wasn't immediately clear if he played any sports after that.

A phone listing with the last name Patten in West Wendover was disconnected and police said they didn't know if Patten has a lawyer.

Costanzo, a strong student who also played on the basketball team, was last was seen leaving practice at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday.

More than 100 volunteers helped search for her Saturday, and a searcher discovered the freshly dug grave about five miles west of the town. Costanzo's body was recovered the next day. An autopsy was planned Monday to determine the cause of death.

Friends said Costanzo was well-liked by her classmates.

"She was so sweet, like she would never do anything to anybody," said Laura Botello, a junior at the school. "Then just out of nowhere she disappears just like that in broad daylight."

School officials opened the high school for staff and students to gather Saturday. Students created makeshift memorials with flowers and candles.

"It's very solemn," said high school counselor Anne Crawford. "There's lots of tears and there's a lot of people very scared or nervous."

 

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