The body of a 5-year-old girl, suspected to have been fatally stabbed by her mother’s boyfriend in August, has been recovered from a landfill in South Carolina.
After sifting through millions of pounds of trash, investigators announced they located Nevaeh Adams’ remains on Friday evening, after more than a month of combing the junkyard.
The child, along with her mother, Sharee Bradley, were allegedly stabbed to death by the woman’s boyfriend, Daunte Maurice Johnson, in August.
“This is not the outcome any of us would have wanted but we hope this can provide some closure to the family,” said Sumter Police Chief Russel Roark in a press release.
“The local community and the state as a whole have been profoundly impacted by this case,” Roark added. “It is our hope that the recovery of Nevaeh will provide a sense of peace to her family, the community, and the hundreds of men and women who participated in this effort.”
Since Sept. 17, search teams have scoured an estimated 4 million pounds of garbage in their exhaustive search. Nearly 400 people and 40 agencies, including dozens of fire and police departments, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, assisted in locating the 5-year-old.
“I’m very glad for the family that they’re going to have the opportunity to give Nevaeh a proper homegoing service instead of having to worry and fret over the unknown location of where she was,” Ernest Finney III, Sumter County Third Circuit solicitor, told Oxygen.com.
“We now have her remains and we can tie that down — that is going to help us tremendously with the preparation of the case,” he added. “The manner in which the deaths occurred is very horrific and we are going to process the case and give the family every hope that they’re going to find justice at the end of the process.”
Around 6 p.m. on Aug. 5, a property manager at Lantana Apartments in Sumter — a small city of roughly 40,000 people, about 100 miles northwest of Charleston — phoned police after discovering the body of Nevaeh’s mother. Her corpse, which investigators said could have laid idle in the apartment for up to 12 hours prior to its discovery, had been stuffed in a carpet, officials said.
“The dead body of the victim was discovered in the apartment, bloody and wrapped up in a large rug with apparent compromise to the integrity of her face and skull,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Authorities apprehended Johnson, the woman’s boyfriend, nearby. The 28-year-old allegedly confessed to killing Bradley, as well as Nevaeh, who he admitted to stabbing to death with a “large folding knife,” according to a separate police incident report.
Johnson was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime in connection to the slayings.
Detectives collected blood samples at the scene that belonged to both Nevaeh and her mother but the child was nowhere to be found. Johnson allegedly admitted he had “disposed of [Nevaeh’s] body in a trash dumpster” but by the time authorities received that information, waste disposal trucks had hauled the girl’s remains to a Richland County garbage dump.
“Blood evidence collected at the scene and analyzed by [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] was found to belong to both the victim, as well as her mother, corroborating the defendant’s confession,” the arrest affidavit stated.
Forensic investigators later concluded both the mother and daughter died from “blunt and sharp force injuries to the head and neck.”
“Anytime a child is murdered, especially in such a heinous fashion — and essentially discarded in the trash — that is a tragedy, it’s a nightmare this family has been living,” the family’s lawyer Garryl Deas told Oxygen.com.
Deas, who applauded state and local authorities’ efforts, described the search as an “immense” and “daunting task.”
“They took on the task of trying to find the body of a 5-year-old innocent child amongst 4 million pounds of waste and trash,” Deas described. “And that is simply being tasked with the responsibility of finding a needle in a haystack.”
The family, he said, can now move forward with their grieving process, as they prepare to memorialize the child.
“They’re hurting, they’re emotionally distraught, they’re struggling with this situation on a daily basis,” Deas explained. “Not only did they lose the mother of Nevaeh, now they know Nevaeh was brutally murdered as well. Right now, their emotions are pretty raw and they’re hurting. They’re holding on but they are definitely in need of prayer and support from the community.”
Police also charged Johnson with possession of a stolen vehicle, which they say belonged to a dead woman in Missouri, who the 28-year-old is also accused of killing. Aaliyah Stanley, 22, was shot in the head in June, according to WIS. Detectives said that at the time of Bradley and Nevaeh’s death, Johnson was trying to sell Stanley’s red Toyota Camry in South Carolina.
The dead Missouri woman’s family told local media that had authorities been able to apprehend Johnson in St. Louis, Bradley and Nevaeh’s deaths could have been averted.
“That woman and her child might be alive if they had just got him when they tracked the car,” Stanley’s mother, Beverly Hill, told WIS.
South Carolina prosecutors are now preparing an indictment against Johnson in the mother-daughter killing, which they hope to present to a grand jury by mid-December. Finney, the Third Circuit solicitor, said he expected the case could go to trial by next summer. Johnson, who was denied bond, according to online court records, is being held at a Sumter County detention facility.
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