Authorities say the body of a missing toddler reported kidnapped near Pittsburgh over the weekend has been found in a park in a neighboring county.
Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said the body of Nalani Johnson, who was to turn 2 this month, was found Sept. 3 in Pine Ridge Park in Blairsville, about 37 miles east of Penn Hills, where authorities allege the girl was kidnapped.
Dougherty said an autopsy would be performed Wednesday to determine the cause and manner of death.
Twenty-five-year-old Sharena Islam Nancy, who authorities say had been romantically involved with the child’s father, remains in custody in Allegheny County on kidnapping and other felony charges.
Dougherty, referring to a woman “individual currently in custody” in Allegheny County but without using any name, said “We believe that she is involved. To what extent, that is still being determined.” But he said officials believe there is no danger to the community.
Paul Johnson said he was riding in a car with Lyft and Uber stickers with his daughter and a friend Saturday evening, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Allegheny County police.
The driver of the car was Sharena Nancy, a woman with whom Johnson was in the beginning of an “intermittent romantic relationship” with, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said at a press conference Tuesday.
The couple became acquainted over social media in the past few months and spent several hours together with Johnson’s daughter and another friend on Saturday, before an argument ensued while the woman was driving, McDonough said.
While police did not elaborate on the details of the argument, McDonough said it was significant enough that Johnson and his other friend decided to exit the car.
Woman Accused Father of Selling Nalani for $10,000
Before Nalani was found dead, Nancy, alleged the father “sold” the child to a woman she then met at a roadside rendezvous, but McDonough said investigators “have nothing to … suggest that that version of events is correct.”
Johnson told detectives he tried calling Nancy’s cellphone multiple times, but she never picked up, so he called 911 around 5 p.m. ET.
Police arrested Nancy in the vehicle during a traffic stop around 7:30 p.m. ET, but did not find the child inside, the complaint said.
Nancy told detectives that Johnson sold the child to an individual for $10,000 and asked her to complete the drop-off, according to the complaint.
Nancy said he showed her a photo of a black woman she was supposed to meet and asked her to drive the toddler “20 minutes” from a gas station in Monroeville along US Route 22 to meet the woman, the complaint says.
Nancy said she was told the woman would then “flag” her down and Nancy was to turn over the toddler, the complaint says.