After the dead body of missing toddler Nalani Johnson was discovered in a Pennsylvania park, police now say that the female suspect in the case had a romantic relationship with the girl’s father.
The 2-year-old’s body was discovered on Tuesday in Pine Ridge Park in Blairsville, District Attorney Patrick Dougherty revealed in a news conference. Her father, Paul Johnson, had reported her missing three days earlier.
At this time, Nalani’s cause of death is unknown and an investigation into the incident is ongoing. An autopsy will be performed on Wednesday.
Sharena Nancy, 25, has been arrested for allegedly kidnapping Nalani and is in Allegheny County Jail, facing charges of kidnapping of a minor, interference with custody of children and concealment of the whereabouts of a child.
In a news conference, Allegheny County Police Department Superintendent Coleman McDonough explained the relationship between Nancy and Nalani’s father.
“Sharena Nancy and Paul Johnson became acquainted intermittently over the last few months — so they were known to each other,” Superintendent McDonough said at a news conference held with Nelani’s grandmother. “They were friends, they were in the beginnings of an intermittent romantic relationship.”
According to a criminal complaint obtained by WTAE, Nalani’s father alleged that he was in a car with Uber and Lyft stickers driven by Nancy with his daughter and a friend when they stopped at an intersection to get out. He told police that when he stepped out of the vehicle, Nancy drove off with his daughter.
He alleged he attempted to reach Nancy on the phone but she never picked up.
Nancy was apprehended in nearby Monroeville around 8 p.m. Saturday — and Nalani was nowhere to be found. Nancy allegedly told police a very different story of what happened. image
During an interview with police, Nancy alleged Nalani’s father asked her to take his daughter to an “unnamed individual” who bought her for $10,000, WTAE reports. She allegedly claimed she dropped off the child with a person driving a silver SUV and out-of-state plates.
Police have not tracked down the SUV, and have found no evidence that it exists.
Following the discovery, Allegheny County Police Department Superintendent Coleman McDonough released a statement on Facebook, extending “my deepest sympathies to the family of Nalani Johnson.”
“This is not the outcome that any of us would have wished. We will continue to keep the Johnson family in our thoughts.”
Nancy has not yet entered a plea in the charges against her, and police say that more charges could be pending after their investigation.
She is still in custody. The court documents do not list an attorney authorized to speak on her behalf.
Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the Allegheny County Police Tip Line at 1-833-255-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.