Nalani Johnson’s young life was cut short, and investigators are working to discover how the toddler died after she was reported missing for nearly three days.
The little girl’s body was found at Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County, Indiana, on Tuesday, the Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty confirmed in a press conference, according to the local CBS affiliate.
She was last seen in a 2017 black Toyota Yaris with 25-year-old Sharena Islam Nancy, who has Lyft and Uber decals on her car. Nancy was apparently married on Valentine’s Day 2018 to a 21-year-old Bangladeshi after her first marriage ended in divorce. The Atlantic City, New Jersey, native listed Lyft as her employer on her marriage license, reports CBS.
Nancy is allegedly “in the beginning of an intermittent romantic relationship” with the toddler’s father, Paul D. Johnson, 21, according to Allegheny County police Superintendent Coleman McDonough, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Nancy, who is in custody in Allegheny County on charges of kidnapping a minor and other felonies in connection with the girl’s disappearance Saturday (September 1), claims Johnson told her he sold the little girl to another woman for $10,000 and he instructed her to drop the child off to the other woman, who would flag her down along Route 22.
Superintendent McDonough said there was nothing to corroborate Ms. Nancy’s version of events, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“She’s provided a number of statements to us,” he said.
According to CBS, Dougherty said, “We believe she is involved. To what extent, that is still to be determined.”
On Saturday (September 1), Nancy, Johnson, his friend, Justin Rouse and Nalani were reportedly together visiting an acquaintance in the Penn Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh for several hours.
Nancy and Rouse allegedly got into an argument in her car while he sat in the backseat with the little girl. As Johnson and Rouse got out of the car, Nancy drove off with the toddler still in her car seat, Superintendent McDonough said.
At around 5:30 p.m., Nancy was captured on camera at a Sheetz in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. She was then spotted near the Chestnut Ridge Golf Course in Blairsville about a half-hour later, but police did not confirm whether the child was in the vehicle in either location, reports CNN.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. police pulled Nancy over in Pittsburgh after an Amber Alert about Nalani’s disappearance was released. The little girl nor her car seat were in the vehicle.
According to cell phone tracking, Pine Ridge Park in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, where Nalani’s body was found, was a stopping point for Nancy before she returned to the Pittsburgh area, reports CBS.
“Obviously until we have some more information on the cause and manner of death, we can’t give you much at this point, but we are working diligently and we are working together,” Dougherty said, according to CBS.
(Photo: Allegheny County Police)