Investigators searching through garbage found the body of a 3-year-old girl who was missing more than a week, and authorities are charging two people with murder, police said on Oct. 22.
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told a news conference that the remains of Kamille McKinney were located in a trash bin that had been taken to a landfill. Police had been watching garbage deposits from a certain part of the city, he said.
Smith said police were obtaining murder warrants against two people previously identified as persons of interest in the case, 39-year-old Patrick Devone Stallworth and his 29-year-old girlfriend, Derick Irisha Brown.
Lawyers for both have said they are innocent.
The child, known as “Cupcake” to relatives, vanished while outside a birthday party on Oct. 12 in Alabama.
Last Friday, police released surveillance footage taken on the night McKinney disappeared.
The footage shows two children—one of which is believed to be McKinney—playing together outside.
They are then approached by a man with a distinctive limp who “engaged with the children” before they followed him out of the view of the camera.
Smith said that police have not established a connection between the two suspects and McKinney’s family after speculation over the family’s involvement in her disappearance.
“We believe this was something they thought about and acted upon. They saw an opportunity to take a young child, and they did,” said Smith, who did not reveal a potential motive.
Stallworth, arrested after officers located a vehicle seen near the abduction site, previously was charged with child pornography, but authorities said the charge wasn’t related to the missing child. He was released from jail on a $500,000 bond but later taken back into custody.
It wasn’t clear how long the child might have been dead. Mayor Randall Woodfin said the girl’s parents were experiencing “unimaginable” pain. “This is a tough moment for our city, a tough moment for the family,” he said.
“Tonight, we’re a city in mourning. Kamille McKinney is gone. Ripped away from her family. The pain her family is enduring right now is unimaginable. Know that whoever perpetrated this crime will be brought to justice and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Woodfin wrote on Twitter.
He encouraged the public to “stand in solidarity” with McKinney’s family, adding, “Now, more than ever, this family needs us.”
Gov. Kay Ivey, in a statement Tuesday night, offered her condolences to Kamille’s family.
“The heart of our state is broken…,” Ivey said. “Our prayers remain with Kamille’s family and all who have been touched by this nightmare.”
The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.