Authorities hope to make a positive identification Monday on the body of a child found in a freezer in a Bradenton home late Sunday.
Bradenton police say it may be the body of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas. The girl’s mother, 31-year-old Keishanna Thomas, is the target of an investigation in the child’s disappearance, according to Bradenton police.
During a press conference late Sunday night, police said they are waiting for confirmation from the medical examiner, but that the body, which they believe is likely Janiya, was found in a freezer in her maternal grandmother’s garage located in the 5000 block of 21st Way East.
Police said the girl’s aunt and grandmother made the discovery after searching for the girl, who they had not seen in weeks. Officials said Keishanna Thomas brought the freezer over to the house on Wednesday with another man, who police have yet to identify.
Keishanna Thomas remains in the Manatee County Jail for contempt of court. On Saturday, she refused to tell a judge about Janiya’s whereabouts.
“She’s done something with this child that she knows she should not have done,” said Lt. James Racky with the Bradenton Police Department. “And she will get charged for it once we can prove what it is she did.”
Prior to the discovery, Thomas was under investigation by Child Protective Services regarding a claim of child abuse by one of the children.
After investigating, case workers from the Department of Children and Families came to Thomas’ home last week to take her five children into their custody, but Janiya was not there and they say Thomas refused to offer an explanation.
Police said the girl had a medical condition that often made it difficult for her to make it to the bathroom in time. It’s the same condition that Janiya’s father died of, officials said.
Neighbors of the Villages of Cortez, which is a gated apartment complex, say they haven’t seen the little girl in several weeks. Keishanna Thomas’ other children, a 15-year-old girl, 12-year-old boy, 9-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, are all in state custody now.
“We try to be professional, we try to put on a calm face about it but it disgusts me,” Racky said. “I’ve got children myself. However this happened, it’s just not right, and we have to find out who is responsible, we need hold them accountable, that child is somone’s child. Whether it’s hers or not, we’ll find that out for sure.”