On the first search of the Las Vegas home, police didn’t find the dead body.
But after interviewing more people about the 3-year-old girl who went missing on Wednesday, authorities searched the home again — and this time, they uncovered the dead body of a child hidden in a duffel bag in a closet, according to a press release.
Police said the bulky bag was “emitting a mildew smell” in the home’s master bedroom closet, KVVU reports.
“The officer opened up that bag and found garbage bags,” said Lt. Ray Spencer, according to KLAS. “He opened up one garbage bag and had to continue through several different garbage bags, when he found the body of a very small child.”
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Authorities said it looked like the child had been dead for three days or less, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.
The girl’s mother, Aisha Thomas, 29, was arrested and charged in her daughter’s murder on Friday, police said. Police said holes in Thomas’ story about the child’s disappearance began to appear as they searched for the child.
Thomas had reported the girl missing on Wednesday, telling police the 3-year-old had wandered off around 9 p.m. as Thomas walked to a store with her four children, according to police. Thomas said she was speaking with someone else and didn’t notice the child had slipped away.
Police scoured the area for the child after Thomas reported the disappearance. Other officers did an initial sweep of Thomas’ apartment.
Police said the coroner’s office will release the girl’s name and official cause of death.
After her arrest, Thomas was taken to the Clark County Detention Center. Her three other children were handed over to Child Protective Services, police said. All of the other kids were under 3, the Review Journal reports.
Police said the father of the dead child — Don Hunt, 30 — was arrested on outstanding warrants just days before the girl’s disappearance, following an unrelated domestic violence call at the home on Sunday, the Review Journal reports.
The girl’s grandmother said she had custody of the 3-year-old girl since she was born, and that Thomas and Hunt were caring for her only temporarily, KLAS reports.
“My heart is broken and I don’t think it will ever be the same,” said Situmba Stansberry, the grandmother, according to the TV station. “She lit up when she saw me, she was always with me, she was in my bed, she would sing to me, kiss me, feed me. She is my everything, she just was my everything.”