The mom of a two-year-old and her boyfriend have been arrested for second-degree murder after the child was reported missing and whose remains were later found in a remote area of Mississippi.
Lanaya Cardwell and her live-in boyfriend, Philip Gardner, have since been charged with second-degree murder in Neveah Allen’s death.
According to an arrest report released late Wednesday, police reveal what happened exactly before Neveah went missing.
Arrest documents reveal that Neveah was with her mom as Cardwell was getting ready for work, according to WBRZ-TV and The Advocate newspaper.
At some point, the 2-year-old picked up her mom’s contact lenses and Cardwell reportedly punched the child in the stomach, causing her to fall and strike her head on a cabinet.
The documents then note that the mom picked up the child and was yelling at her.
Gardner informed police that Neveah had a bruise on her forehead and that he then took the mom to work — but when he returned with Neveah, she laid down and wouldn’t eat and became unresponsive. Allegedly, Gardner was watching two other young children at the home at the time.
The documents stated how Gardner attempted to revive Neveah but couldn’t. He then put her body in a suitcase, drove the other two children with him to Mississippi and buried her in the woods.
The autopsy stated that Neveah had multiple bruises on her face and head, along with swelling in her brain. The coroner noted that the marks on her face resembled handprints, along with bruises on her thighs and rear.
The report also stated that because she suffered brain trauma, “it cannot be ruled out that the victim was still alive at the time that Gardner placed her in the suitcase and suffocated to death.”
“Over the last several days, when we first received the call it was our highest priority to bring Neveah home,” Chief Paul said. “It saddens me to have to stand here and hold a press conference to discuss the fact that this beautiful innocent angel is no longer with us.”
The investigation is still ongoing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members affected by this absolute, tragic loss.
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