Body found in freezer may belong to missing girl
BRADENTON (FOX 13) - New details have surfaced in the case of a missing girl whose body may have been found in a freezer at a Bay Area home over the weekend.
Monday morning, Bradenton Police Lieutenant James Racky said they are still working to determine if the body belongs to 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, who hasn’t been seen since August of 2014.
“As soon as the medical examiner can give us a positive ID on who the child is, we’ll be able to go through and continue our investigation of finding out who did this to the child and why they were put there,” he said.
The investigation into Janiya's disappearance began after a child abuse complaint that was filed on her mother, 31-year-old Keishanna Thomas at the end of September.
Child Protective Service officials went to her home to take Thomas' children into protective custody, but only found four of her five children on the property.
Officials said Thomas refused to tell them where her 11-year-old daughter, Janiya was. She then did the same to a judge in court on Friday, who then ordered she be held in contempt of court at the Manatee County Jail.
After word of Janiya's disappearance reached family members over the weekend, Lt. Racky said they reached out to them with concerns.
Janiya's grandmother and aunt reportedly told them that Janiya's mother and a friend dropped a 5-foot-by-4-foot padlocked freezer off at their home last week, and asked them to keep it in their garage for "a little bit."
“They thought it was a little odd because the freezer was padlocked,” explained Lt. Racky. “Being smart, they actually broke open the lock and looked in the freezer and saw the body of a small, black female in the freezer and they called us. Thank god they called us.”
Investigators obtained a warrant for the home and have been investigating since.
According to Lt. Racky, detectives believe Janiya's mother was frustrated because of a medical condition she may have had, one the girl's father may have passed away from.
“I don’t have the exact terminology for it, but the medical condition made Janiya unable to know when she was going to use the bathroom, so she would actually wet herself and have bowel movements, and she could not control that,” explained Lt. Racky. “That did frustrate the mother…and if she did this horrible act, we think that may have contributed to that.
And while they've made developments in the case, Lt. Racky said Monday, many questions remain. Today, they are talking to the man -- whom they believe is Thomas' boyfriend but did not publicly identify -- who helped deliver the fridge.
According to court records, Keishanna Thomas has been arrested for violating probation and prostitution in the past.
FOX 13 will continue with updates as the investigation continues.