ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -

A man accused in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl nearly 10 years ago was returned to Florida Tuesday night and faced a St. Johns County judge Wednesday morning.

Robert Mitchell, 43, was arrested on March 16 in Connecticut, where he moved shortly after the death of 11-year-old Cherie Morrisette.

Morrisette's body was found floating in the St. Johns River in December 1996 -- six days after her family reported her missing.

Originally, investigators thought the Mandarin Middle School girl may have drowned, but said DNA evidence found in her clothes matched that of Mitchell. He was convicted of illegal sexual contact with a child in Connecticut in 2003, and his DNA was added to a national DNA registry.

Mitchell had waived his right of extradition and U.S. Marshals brought him to St. Johns County Tuesday, where detectives interviewed him about the decade-old case, then booked him into jail on a count of first-degree murder.

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