Former lifeguard Mark Bridger has been charged with the abduction and murder of April Jones - but the five-year-old Welsh schoolgirl remains missing despite an intensive, ongoing search.
Bridger, 46, is also accused of perverting the course of justice and will appear before Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court on Monday.
News that charges had been brought against Bridger, of Machynlleth, mid Wales, came at a packed press conference in Aberystwyth and brought to an end four days of police interrogation.
While the decision to bring a charge of murder means police have little expectation of finding April alive, residents in Machynlleth refuse to give up hope.
A mass procession and church service is expected to attract hundreds of people on Sunday and bring the town to a standstill. It will be the latest show of mass solidarity by the resilient and close-knit community which refuses to give up hope.
Iwan Jenkins, of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales, said the decision to charge Bridger came after concluding: "There is sufficient evidence to charge Mark Bridger with the murder of April Jones, and that it is in the public interest to do so."
Dyfed Powys Police Chief Constable Jackie Roberts said it was now "time to let the judicial process take its course and time to let the family come to terms with what has happened over the last week".
April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was playing out late on her bicycle as a treat for a glowing school report when she disappeared on Monday evening.
Machynlleth will come to a stop on Sunday when hundreds of people are expected to attend a church service in her honour. Residents from her home estate of Bryn-y-Gog will lead a slow massed procession through the town.
Police will close the main road through the centre of the market town while the massive show of solidarity and support takes place. It will be the second such display within days after the community donned pink ribbons earlier this week in symbolic hope that April was still alive. It followed a call from Coral Jones, 40, April's mother, for people to wear ribbons of pink, April's favourite colour.