SUMTER, S.C. — The search for a missing 5-year-old South Carolina girl has shifted to a “recovery effort” based on information provided by a suspect, the Sumter Police Department said Tuesday.
Nevaeh Lashy Adams was reported missing after a family member discovered the body of her mother, Sharee Bradley, 29, in her apartment Monday evening, police said.
Witnesses saw Daunte Maurice Johnson, 28, leaving the apartment and later police found him in a nearby neighborhood, officials said. After being taken into custody, Johnson told police that he killed both Bradley and her daughter, police said.
Police told CNN they don’t know whether Johnson has a lawyer; a public defender has not yet been appointed to him, according to the Sumter County Judicial Center.
Johnson told police he dumped the 5-year-old’s body in a city dumpster, CNN affiliate WIS reported. When police arrived, the dumpster had already been emptied and its contents hauled to the landfill. Citing police, WIS reported that investigators, assisted by cadaver dogs, are sifting through approximately 230 tons of trash.
“Finding this little girl is first and foremost and we have and will continue to use every resource available to make that happen,” said Police Chief Russell Roark.
A preliminary report from the Sumter County Coroner’s Office detremined Bradley had been dead for several hours before she was found, police said. The information gathered so far suggests Nevaeh was killed during the same time frame as her mother, police said.
A history of violence?
Johnson, who is being held in the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center on a murder charge, was denied bond by a judge during a hearing Wednesday afternoon, according to WIS.
Johnson has a criminal record in other states and is a suspect in a Missouri homicide, said Sumter police who continue to investigate his past.
As of Wednesday, the search for Nevaeh continues but there are no new developments, Tonyia M. McGirt, public information officer for Sumter Police, told CNN Wednesday morning.
While the truth of what Johnson told police needs to be investigated, “he did say that he killed the mother and child,”
“He was familiar with the victim. We’re calling him ‘an acquaintance’ at this point,” said McGirt, who said she cannot provide additional details in the ongoing investigation. “Our officers are definitely exploring every avenue.”
Nevaeh’s family requests help
Tuesday, Nevaeh’s family held out hope and pleaded for the child’s safe return at a press conference.
Her step-grandfather, Elijah, looked with tear-filled eyes directly into the camera and the faces of those assembled. After reciting his phone number, he asked anyone who is “too scared” to go to police to call him directly with any information they may have.
“Call on us, call me, and tell me where my grandbaby is,” he said. “If you have her in possession, just give her up. Just let her come home.”
He thanked the police for their effort and the consolation they’ve provided him.
Bradley’s mother, her head bowed in grief, also spoke at the conference. “My daughter, Sharee Bradley, was a kind, sweet-hearted daughter and she didn’t deserve to die like this,” she said.
She, too, believes her granddaughter is “alive somewhere and I’m not going to give up on that. And we are going to keep searching for her… and I want to thank the public for everything they’re doing,” she said.
Bradley’s son said, “I hope we find my sister and I hope my mother rests in peace.”
Finally, Nevaeh’s father, Dupray Adams, said the police “haven’t given up and that keeps me going. My daughter is alive out here and that’s what I am holding on to.”
Following the news conference, he described Nevaeh for WIS: “When she was born, she never cried. She was just so precious.”
A “very active” girl, she is taking tap dance lessons and wanting to be in gymnastics, he said.
“She’s an excellent daughter. She’s about to be 6, about to go to kindergarten. A wonderful child,” he said.