Utah teen charged with murder after luring girl, 12, from home
Crime Scene Tape (Shutterstock)

A 15-year-old Utah boy has been charged with aggravated murder after allegedly luring a 12-year-old neighbor from her home with a ruse about a lost cat, and then strangling her and dumping her body in a field, prosecutors have said.

Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill's office said in a statement on Tuesday that it has asked for the teenager to be prosecuted as an adult, "based upon the severity of the charge."

If the motion is granted then the case will be transferred to the district court from juvenile court, it said. The boy was not named in the statement.

Authorities say the victim, Kailey Vijil, left her home in the Salt Lake suburb of West Valley City at around midnight last Thursday with the permission of her parents.

When she failed to return immediately, her mother began searching for her and alerted police.

The girl's body was found hours later with signs of trauma, lying in an overgrown horse paddock behind a row of houses. She had been strangled, a medical examiner later determined, possibly with a T-shirt found at the scene.

In a probable cause statement filed with the murder charge, police said the boy knocked on the door of the victim's house and asked her 14-year-old sister for help finding a lost cat.

The older girl said no, according to the court document, but 12-year-old Kailey agreed to go with him.

Hours after her body was located, police on Friday arrested the 15-year-old boy and said he had apparently tried to lure an 11-year-old girl from a different home earlier that same night. On that occasion, the younger girl's parents intervened, a police spokeswoman said.

In initial reports last week, police gave the victim's first name as Kayley, but have since corrected it to Kailey.