1:07 PM PDT, September 28, 2021
The boyfriend of a missing toddler’s mother has been arrested after the child’s body was found dumped in a remote area of Mississippi, police said.
Two-year-old Nevaeh Allen was reported missing Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after her siblings came home from school and found the front door of their apartment open and no sign of the toddler, according to authorities. Nevaeh had been in the care of Phillip Gardner, the mother’s boyfriend, who told detectives he awoke from a nap and Nevaeh was gone, the Louisiana State Police said at the time.
The little girl’s body was discovered Sunday about 100 miles away in Mississippi’s Hancock County after a widespread search. Gardner allegedly led detectives to the site after amending his statement to say he had discovered the child’s lifeless body Friday and transported it to the Mississippi woods, according to local reports.
Gardner, 30, was arrested and charged with unlawful disposal of remains and obstruction of justice and is being held in lieu of $750,000 bail at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, according to online records. A preliminary autopsy conducted Monday ruled the toddler’s death a homicide. A cause of death has yet to be determined, the coroner said.
On Friday, Nevaeh’s weeping mother, Lanaya Cardwell, told reporters she was at work when her daughter disappeared. Cardwell said it was unlikely that Nevaeh had wandered off. She last saw her daughter before she left for work and that “Nu Nu,” as she called the child, was wearing a yellow-and-pink dress adorned with pineapples.
“Nevaeh is not known for wandering around,” Cardwell said. “I never once had to correct Nevaeh for even leaving the house without an adult. Nevaeh knows better.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help cover funeral and burial costs for the toddler.