The rideshare driver charged with kidnapping in connection with the disappearance and death of Pennsylvania toddler Nalani Johnson remains the sole suspect in the case.
Sharena Nancy, 25, is the only person authorities believe is involved in the death of Johnson, who went missing Saturday and whose body was found in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County on Tuesday afternoon, still strapped in her car seat, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr. told local outlet KDKA.
Nancy allegedly sped off with the girl after giving a ride to her father Paul Johnson, the child and a friend following some sort of argument in the car. While initial reports suggested Nancy was working as an Uber of Lyft driver when she gave the ride to Johnson and his daughter, police now say they knew each other personally and apparently were in a sexual relationship, 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.
When she was arrested, and before Nalani was found dead, Nancy told police that Johnson had sold his child for $10,000 to an unidentified party and she acted as a courier to deliver Nalani to them. Johnson's family vehemently denied that allegation and Zappala reiterated that Johnson has not been implicated in the case and does not appear to be involved in Nalani's death.
Zappala said that investigators electronically traced Nancy’s path after the alleged abduction, which resulted in the conclusion that she is the only suspect. He also said that it appears that Nalani was not tossed into the park but placed. Sharena was allegedly familiar with the area where the child’s body was found because she brought a rideshare customer there recently, according to KDKA.
Although the official cause and manner of death for Nalani is pending, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said in a statement released Thursday that it will likely be classified as a homicide. KDKA reported previously that investigators said the toddler had no signs of visible trauma on her body and it was possible she died of dehydration, however Zappala said authorities believe Nalani was already dead when she was left in the park and didn't die of exposure.
Criminal homicide charges are expected once the autopsy and toxicology results are in and that could take “approximately six weeks or more,” coroner Jerry Overman Jr. said in a statement.
Investigators are still looking for a motive.
While initial reports said that Nalani was 2, she was just shy of her second birthday, which is next week.
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.