PITTSBURGH - The death of Nalani Johnson, who was abducted Saturday in Penn Hills, is expected to be ruled as a homicide, authorities said Thursday.
Nalani, who would have turned 2 years old in September, was found dead Tuesday in a park in Indiana County. There were no visible signs of trauma.
Sharena Nancy, who authorities said had been romantically involved with the child's father, remains in custody in Allegheny County. She's charged with kidnapping of a minor, custodial interference and concealment of the whereabouts of a child, all felonies.
No one has been charged in Nalani's death.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Thursday afternoon evidence reveals the woman who abducted Nalani was the only person involved in the toddler’s death.
"Well, I'm really not permitted to speak as to motive, but there's a lot of people. There's a lot of questions that still need to be answered," Zappala said.
Breaking: allegheny district attorney talks about kidnapping and death of toddler. Says evidence reveals that woman who abducted child was only person involved in toddler’s death. Details at 5 #wpxi pic.twitter.com/d3mCr90r1E— Rick Earle (@WPXIRickEarle) September 5, 2019
Zappala said Nalani was found dead while she was still buckled in a car seat, but he suspects she was killed before being dropped off in a remote wooded area.
"We sincerely appreciate all the effort that was put into this, but I don't think any effort that was undertaking after Saturday, would have saved that child's life," he said.
Officials involved in the investigation, including Zappala and Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty, met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the case and how to proceed.
In a joint statement, Zappala and Dougherty’s offices said the following Thursday morning:
“Although the cause and manner of death for Nalani Johnson are pending further test results by the Indiana County Coroner, the expectation is that the manner of death will be homicide.
“At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that all of the charges resulting from the investigation will be prosecuted in Allegheny County with District Attorney Dougherty and the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office having a significant partnership role in the prosecution.
“The Allegheny County Police Department will remain the lead investigative agency with Westmoreland and Indiana counties, along with the Pennsylvania State Police continuing their involvement as well.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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