Top Stories

Timeline of abduction, search and discovery of Nalani Johnson

PENN HILLS, Pa. — This all started Saturday with an Amber Alert, and the investigation took a heartbreaking turn Tuesday with the death of Nalani Johnson.

>>RELATED: Missing toddler found dead in Blairsville, autopsy to be performed Wednesday

Here's a timeline of events from the abduction to the discovery of Nalani:

Saturday, Aug. 31, 5 p.m.

Police said Nalani, her father Paul Johnson and her uncle Justin Rouse were in a vehicle driven by Sharena Nancy Saturday night.

Sharena Nancy is accused of abducting Nalani Johnson. 

During that ride, Johnson and Nancy had an argument, at which time police said he got out of the vehicle with Rouse, but she drove off before he could get his daughter, Nalani.

Johnson and Nancy were in the beginning of a romantic relationship after communicating on social media,  police said.

>>RELATED: Woman at center of Amber Alert told police toddler's father was planning to sell her

Nalani was last seen at the intersection of Bryant and Clay drives in Penn Hills about 5 p.m. Saturday, according to police.

PHOTOS: Toddler abducted from Penn Hills, suspect arrested

Police say Nancy was captured on camera at the Sheetz in Murrysville around 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, just 30 minutes after the alleged abduction.

During their investigation, police said the black Toyota Yaris she was driving traveled to the Blairsville, New Alexandria and Delmont areas of Westmoreland County during the 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. timeframe.

>>RELATED: Missing toddler found dead in Blairsville, autopsy to be performed Wednesday

Nancy, was stopped by Penn Hills police on Rodi Road at 7:30 p.m. Neither Nalani nor the car seat were in the car at the time.  Nancy was taken into custody to be questioned.

Saturday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

This picture of Nalani was blasted all over phones and the internet in our area after an Amber Alert was sent out telling people to be on the lookout for her.

>>RELATED: What we know about toddler Nalani Johnson, who was subject of Amber Alert

The alert said police believed she was with Nancy.

Sunday, Sept. 1

Sunday morning, Nalani's grandfather, who is also named Paul Johnson, talked to Channel 11 said who said he didn't know Nancy. .

You can now customize your WPXI News App to receive alerts to Allegheny County news. CLICK HERE to find out how.

"You know her as a jitney driver," Channel 11 asked. "I didn't know her at all," Johnson said.

Monday, Sept. 2, 1:30 a.m.

On Monday, police charged Nancy with kidnapping of a minor, interference with custody of children and concealment of the whereabouts of a child. Police said she was being uncooperative.

According to detectives , she told police Nalani's father sold her to another person for $10,000 and asked Nancy to drive her from a gas station in Monroeville along Route 22.

Nalani's father has not been charged.

Monday, Sept. 2, 6:30 a.m.

Nalani's father, Paul Johnson and her grandmother spoke to Channel 11 and made a plea to the public to help find her.

Monday, Sept. 2, 10:30 a.m.

Search crews gathered at the Walmart in Delmont to organize a search for Nalani. Family, police, fire and volunteers searched several areas in Westmoreland and Indiana counties but did not find Nalani.

>>RELATED: Family, friends thankful for volunteers who helped Amber Alert searches

The FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Response Team arrived in Pittsburgh to help in the search for Nalani.

Monday, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. 

Dozens of people gathered at a prayer vigil hoping for the safe return of a girl who was abducted and was at the center of a local Amber Alert.

>>RELATED: Prayer event held as the search continues for toddler at the center of Amber Alert

Organized by a local pastor, the event featured candles and flyers with Nalani Johnson's picture. Johnson was allegedly taken over the weekend by a woman claiming she was told to sell the toddler.

Prayer event held as the search continues for toddler at the center of Amber Alert

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 1 p.m.

Allegheny County police, the FBI and Nalani's family held a joint news conference to give an update on the investigation.

They released new information and pictures.

Investigators urged people to come forward with information about Nancy and asked businesses along Route 22 to review surveillance to see if they have any video that could be helpful to investigators.

Investigators also released new photos of Nancy's car and the car seat Nalani was riding in when she disappeared.

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m.

Crews began concentrating their search in an area of Pine Ridge Park in Burrell Township, Indiana County.

Searchers used dogs, drones and helicopters to help find Nalani.  It was during that search that they found her body.

State Police and Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty made the announcement at a news conference a few hours later.

"Until we have some more information regarding the cause and manner of death we really can't give you much at this point," Dougherty said.

Shortly after Nalani was discovered, complete strangers showed up to lay flowers and created a makeshift memorial.

Wednesday, Sept. 4

The cause and manner of death will be determined during an autopsy that is planned for Wednesday.

Thursday, Sept. 5

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said they expect Nalani's death to be ruled a homicide. Zappala also said evidence reveals the woman who abducted Nalani was the only person involved in the toddler's death.

Tuesday, Sept. 10

Several forms of technology are helping investigators build their case against suspect Sharena Nancy, according to Zappala.

Friday, Oct. 25, 1:30 p.m.

Allegheny County police have charged Sharena Nancy with criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse. An autopsy was conducted by the Indiana County Coroner, who determined that Nalani Johnson's manner of death was homicide.