Missing Toddler Found Dead in Park After Conflicting Stories

Nalani Johnson's dad says she was kidnapped by the woman driving them
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2019 9:25 AM CDT
Missing Toddler Found Dead in Park After Conflicting Stories
A memorial to Nalani Johnson.   (Christian Snyder/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Their stories clashed, but one grim detail is now clear: Nalani Johnson is dead. The 23-month-old Pennsylvania toddler's body was found Tuesday in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County. Father Paul Johnson originally said the driver of the car he was in on Saturday drove off with the child; that driver, Sharena Nancy, said Johnson had sold the girl for $10,000 and asked her to facilitate a hand-off to a woman who would be waiting along US Route 22; Nancy claimed she did just that. And while Johnson's family said Nancy was unknown to them, CNN reports by way of Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough that the pair had met over social media and had recently developed an "intermittent romantic relationship."

"Until we have some more information regarding the cause and manner of death, we really can't give you much at this point," Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said at a Tuesday press conference, reports CNN. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday. Per the criminal complaint, Johnson, Nalani, and a friend were in the car with Nancy for hours on Saturday. An argument happened, and Johnson says he decided to get out of the black 2017 Toyota Yaris. He says Nancy sped off before he could get Nalani out of her car seat and that she didn't answer his calls. She has been charged with kidnapping and has a Sept. 16 court date. In the meantime, McDonough is asking businesses along the Route 22 corridor to review their video footage from 5:23pm to 7:25pm on Saturday "to see if there is anything that may be of interest," reports WTAE. (More kidnapping stories.)

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