Authorities believe they’ve found the remains of missing 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, 10 days after the Alabama girl disappeared from a birthday party.
The body was discovered in a dumpster at a landfill near Warrior by police and FBI as they sorted through approximately 12 tons of trash collected from the Birmingham area, ending a massive search to find the girl, AL.com reports.
“This is a tough moment for this city. This is a tough moment for this family,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday night after police announced the discovery.
Police Chief Patrick Smith said at a news conference that authorities plan to charge Patrick Stallworth, 39, and his girlfriend, Derick Brown, 29, with capital murder and kidnapping in McKinney’s death, according to local station WBRC.
Police quickly identified the pair as possible suspects in the kidnapping after witnesses reported seeing a couple trying to lure children with candy in the area where McKinney disappeared.
They were both taken into custody the day after the abduction after police identified Stallworth as a man seen in surveillance footage at a nearby convenience store around the time McKinney was taken. They also seized the couple’s Toyota SUV, which matched the description of the car seen by witnesses.
Initially, Stallworth had been held on four counts of possession of obscene material of persons under 17 years of age and three counts of possession with intent to disseminate obscene material after police allegedly found child pornography on his cell phone during the investigation.
He had been released on bond in those charges but was taken back into custody Tuesday night, authorities said, according to the local station.
Brown has remained in custody since her initial arrest on Oct. 13 after authorities revoked her probation. She had been accused in 2018 of abducting her children from the custody of child services.
Authorities don’t believe either suspect had any connection with McKinney or her family.
“We believe that this was something they thought about and acted upon. They saw an opportunity to take a young child and they did. Our further investigation will reveal whatever happened after that,” Smith said, according to AL.com.
Investigators have not released any details about how the 3-year-old died.
Emory Anthony, Stallworth’s attorney, declined to comment Tuesday about the new charges facing his client but previously told AL.com that his client has an alibi for the time of the kidnapping.
McKinney was abducted Oct. 12 from the Tom Brown Village housing community while she was at a birthday party. Surveillance footage shows several children—one of whom is believed to be McKinney—being approached by a man with a limp. The footage shows the children following that man out of the view of the camera.
The case brought together an entire community who searched for the missing 3-year-old in the days after she disappeared.
“Tonight our entire city is mourning. Kamille is gone,” Woodfin said. “Ripped away from her family. The pain her family is enduring is unimaginable. The perpetrator of this crime will be brought to justice and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. So tonight, Birmingham, we mourn as one. Please uplift this family. Uplift your own families. Hold your loved ones tighter."
Council member Hunter Williams told local station WIAT the discovery of McKinney’s body brings a tragic end to the case.
“I think the entire city of Birmingham has been living on the cusp of hope and fear, hoping that Kamille can be brought up safely and having that horrible feeling in your gut that the worst news, which is unfortunately what we are talking about tonight, could happen,” he said.
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