New charges for mother of girl found dead in freezer
BRADENTON (FOX 13) - More charges have been filed against the mother of an 11-year-old whose body was believed to have been found inside a freezer.
Keishanna Thomas first refused to appear in court to face the new child abuse charges Monday, but a judge made her come forward.
"That is not an acceptable response in that particular case today," the judge said upon learning of Thomas' preference to avoid court. "I suggest someone go get her."
The new child abuse charge stems from an allegation made by her 12-year-old son in September. But investigators hope she will tell them what happened to her 11-year-old daughter, Janiya.
"She showed up in court, but all the questions the judge asked her, she took the Fifth and she would not answer those questions," stated Lt. James Racky of Bradenton police.
Since Friday, Thomas has remained behind bars as investigators searched. Last night, they believe they found her body at her great-grandmother's home -- stuffed in a freezer.
"They are in shock. Like anybody would be. It's a very shocking situation. It's heartbreaking," offered neighbor Maria Barger.
Barger said she witnessed Thomas and her boyfriend dropping off a locked freezer late last week.
"There was a truck that was there. We watch. She is elderly; you pay attention to what comes in and what comes out."
Barger says Thomas gave her family specific directions: "It needed to stay plugged in. That was their big thing."
As investigators searched, the family grew suspicious and pried open the lock. Inside, they found a child's body.
"They don't understand how this could happen," Barger continued. "They don't understand how they could be brought into it."
It's not known when Janiya was last seen. Manatee school officials say she was last enrolled in May of 2013. Her family began homeschooling her until they informed the district she no longer lived in state in January.
As long as Keishanna Thomas refuses to talk, family, friends, and neighbors are left only with sadness.
"There are too many people that want children can't have them," Barger added. "There are several neighbors in this neighborhood that would have been willing to take her, including us."