A 2-year-old girl found dead in a Pennsylvania park this week may have died of dehydration.
Nalani Johnson, 2, was allegedly kidnapped Saturday by Sharena Nancy, who was reportedly romantically linked to the girl’s father, Paul Johnson.
Nalani's body was found in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County on Tuesday afternoon, CBS Pittsburgh reports. Investigators told KDKA in Pittsburgh that the toddler was still in her car seat, with no visible signs of trauma on her body; they suspect she died of dehydration. Still, an official autopsy is pending and her death is being considered a murder.
"Although the cause and manner of death for Nalani Johnson are pending further test results by the Indiana County Coroner, the expectation is that the manner of death will be homicide,” the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said in a statement released on Thursday, WTAE in Pittsburgh reports.
Nancy, 25, allegedly drove off with Nalani after giving a ride to Paul Johnson, the child and a friend. However, Nancy claimed the child's father sold Nalani for $10,000, according to court records obtained by WTAE - an allegation his family vehemently denies.
While initial reports said Paul Johnson described Nancy to police as an Uber and Lyft driver –– noting that she has stickers for both ride-sharing companies on her car –– police now say it appears they were in a sexual relationship got into some sort of argument before she allegedly drove off with the child, local outlet WKRC-TV reports. Nancy’s downstairs neighbor Nikki Zielinski told KDKA that she frequently would hear Nancy and Paul Johnson arguing over their relationship.
It’s also been revealed that Nalani’s mother, Gladys Duarte, filed a temporary protection from abuse order against Paul in April, citing, among many issues, that Paul “admitted to almost killing my daughter and himself,” KDKA reports.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.