Nathaniel Fujita, a former high school football player in Wayland, Mass. was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the death of his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend Lauren Astley. Fujita plead not guilty and is being held without bond at Middlesex Jail in Cambridge, Mass.
Astley, also recently graduated from Wayland High School, reportedly dated Fujita for three years until they broke up several weeks ago. Although Astley broke off the relationship, the two were on amiable terms, The Boston Globe reports. Officials are still investigating what may have triggered the alleged murder.
Astley was reported missing Sunday after she didn't return home from her job at a clothing store. Her body was found in a marshy area by a bicyclist Monday morning with her throat cut and a bungee cord wrapped around her neck.
Prosecutors say Astley and Fujita had spoken over the phone and planned to meet up after she got off work, CBS Boston reports.
Police questioned Fujita and upon searching his home Sunday night, found blood in several areas, including the garage, door handles and in the kitchen. They also uncovered a bungee cord, bloody tennis shoes and a plastic trash bag with wet, bloody clothing.
Fujita is to appear in court Aug. 15 for a probable cause hearing, ABC News reports. There is no evidence that Fujita and Astley had an abusive relationship while they were dating, nor does Fujita have any previous criminal record.
Astley and Fujita were reportedly close with each other's families. Astley had even interviewed Fujita's dad, who is a prominent musician in Boston, for a project posted on YouTube.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone said this was a case of alleged teen dating violence.
"Lauren broke off the relationship. ... It's a classic fatal paradigm that we see around teen dating relationships," Leone told reporters at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Fujita was recruited to play football for Trinity College. Astley was planning to attend Elon University in North Carolina.
The incident has led the Wayland community and the school district to reach out as a group, with emotional support for students and an online community of well-wishers.
It has also sparked some conversation about teens and dating violence. The Globe reports that little more than half of parents responding to a survey report discussing dating abuse with their children. And about one-third of high school relationships involve a form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.