Gerald Herbert / AP
Lisa North, mother of missing 6-year-old Ahlittia North, cries in the arms of her mother, Rene' Johnson, right, after Jefferson Parish authorities found the body of her daughter in a trash bin in Harvey, La., on July 16.
The body of a missing 6-year-old girl, Ahlittia North, was found in a trash bin about 100 feet from her New Orleans home early Tuesday morning, officials said.
Officials say they took 20-year-old Matthew Flugence, the nephew of Ahlittia's stepfather, into custody Tuesday night. He will be booked with one count of first-degree murder.
Flugence’s brother, Russell, is also being held in jail and has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection to the case, police said
Ahlittia was first reported missing by her mother, Lisa North Hill, and stepfather, on Saturday morning. There were no signs of forced entry to the home, cops said.
“She was a very outgoing child — very friendly — one that if someone knocked on the door or rang the doorbell she wanted to be the first to answer,” Sheriff Newell Normand of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a press conference Tuesday. “It could have been very likely that she had gone and opened the front door.”
On Saturday, investigators discovered a pool of blood seven doors down from North Hill’s apartment, but it was not until Monday that DNA results confirmed the blood belonged to Ahlittia.
Police officers then canvassed the neighborhood again. At around midnight Monday night, Ahlittia’s body was found in a garbage can, wrapped in her missing blanket.
Sheriff Normand said investigators had searched that same trash can over the weekend and found nothing. Police do not know when the body was disposed of or where it had been held.
“We spent a lot of time with [the parents] trying to make sure we don’t misstep,” Normand told reporters. “It’s the ultimate nightmare of any parent’s — to wake up and their child is gone — having no idea what happened to the child.”
The Coroner for the JPSO cited Ahlittia’s cause of death as two aggressive stab wounds to the neck. She sustained numerous other injuries, including two stab wounds to the abdomen and bruising to the front and back of her head.
According to the family, Matthew Flugence had babysat the 6-year-old in the past. He has also been wanted since late April for the alleged sexual battery of an 11-year-old girl, officials said. Flugence will also be booked on a charge of sexual battery. Authorities are unsure if the family knew about Flugence’s sexual assault allegations.
At this point it remains unclear if Ahlittia was abused sexually but there are no obvious signs indicating that she was.
First published July 16 2013, 3:12 PM