BERLIN, N.H. – A judge has put the case against a New Hampshire man accused of killing his stepdaughter in 2011 on hold pending a psychiatric evaluation.

Fifty-two-year-old Wendell Noyes made an initial court appearance Tuesday on a second-degree murder charge. He was arrested Monday at the state psychiatric hospital, where he had been since December after being found incompetent to stand trial on unrelated misdemeanors.

Noyes is accused of killing 11-year-old Celina Cass in July 2011. Her body was found in the Connecticut River.

Noyes is accused of killing Cass by submerging her body in the river.

Noyes appeared before a judge via video conference from the county jail. He indicated he understood the charges, and his eyes widened when he heard he could face up to life in prison.

His attorney and prosecutors agreed to delay scheduling his next hearing until he undergoes an evaluation.

The mother of the girl said Noyes, her ex-husband, seemed loving and caring and her children were happy.

Louisia Cass told WMUR-TV that she long suspected Noyes killed her daughter and she hopes her ex-husband “rots so bad.”

Ever since the girl’s body was found, Cass says she has imagined her daughter telling her not to give up on her.

Louisa Cass said she spent her last night with her daughter watching TV in her rocking chair. Before Celina went to bed, Louisia told her, “I love you” and hugged her. She said Noyes was drinking with friends on the porch.

Noyes had previously denied having anything to do with Celina’s disappearance and death.

A message was left for Noyes’ lawyer.

He was deemed unfit to stand trial in a 2003 case in which he was charged with breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home and threatening her.

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