A babysitter and trusted neighbor confessed that he bludgeoned a 9-year-old girl to death with a brick and then dismembered her, hiding her head, hands and feet at his home and dumping the rest of her remains nearby, police said Tuesday.
Allen County sheriff's investigators said in an affidavit that Michael Plumadore, 39, admitted he killed Aliahna Lemmon last Friday.
The girl and her family lived in the same trailer park as Plumadore. Another resident said the family had moved there so that Aliahna's mom, Tarah Souders, could help take care of her dying father, a convicted sex offender.
The park was teeming with convicted sex offenders, with one living at nearly every occupied trailer home.
Souders worried about neighbors with sex offense records who had been helping her father get by, according to trailer park residents. And before she arrived, she even asked her father if her children could be at risk for abuse from two specific men — including Plumadore.
"He said, 'No. They will not touch your children. They're doing everything they're supposed to do,'" said Greg Shumaker, one of 15 convicted sex offenders who live at the park and the other man that Souders had inquired about.
Shumaker said Aliahna's family moved there to help take care of 66-year-old James E. "Shorty" Lemmon, who also was a convicted sex offender and died Dec. 3. He said Lemmon was "getting old" and "had trouble breathing."
Shumaker said he introduced Plumadore to Lemmon shortly after Plumadore moved into the trailer park, and Plumadore moved in with Lemmon a few days later. Shumaker said he knew Lemmon because they were both sex offenders and were in jail together.
Sheriff's department spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel confirmed that Lemmon was a sex offender. Indiana Department of Correction records show he was convicted of child molesting in March 2006.
Plumadore is not on Indiana's registered sex offenders list. But he has been on the run for 11 years for battery of a Florida law enforcement officer in 2000.
Florida Department of Correction records show that Plumadore fled the state after he was sentenced to a year in prison in May 2000. Details of the incident in Miami Beach weren't immediately available. ( .)
No motive reported According to the affidavit, Plumadore told police that after beating Aliahna to death, he stuffed her body into trash bags and hid her in the freezer at his trailer. He said he later chopped up her body and stuffed her remains into freezer bags.
Police said Plumadore told them he had hidden Aliahna's head, feet and hands at his trailer and that he had discarded her other remains at a nearby business. Police obtained a warrant to search his trailer on Monday and found the body parts.
The affidavit does not provide details about why Plumadore killed the child.
A judge ordered Plumadore held without bail or bond at an initial hearing Tuesday. He has yet to be formally charged in Aliahna's death.
Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore, a neighbor, for about a week because their mother had been sick with the flu.
Plumadore told The Journal Gazette on Sunday that Aliahna disappeared from his home Friday morning while he was sleeping after having gone to a gas station about a mile away to buy a cigar. Authorities have said the store's surveillance video shows him there about that time.
More than 100 emergency workers searched for her Saturday around the rundown mobile home park where Aliahna and Plumadore lived and FBI agents were there Monday.
A Facebook profile belonging to a Michael Plumadore in Fort Wayne, Ind., had a photo album called “The kids,” which included apparent photos of a smiling Aliahna and other children. The profile, which could not be verified as belonging to the suspect, suggested he was originally from Charlotte, N.C.
Richard Patee, 58, whose trailer is next to where Plumadore was living, said he didn't think it was odd that Aliahna's mother had him watching the girls for an extended period.
"They had known each other for somewhere of three to four years, I know that, and he took care of their grandfather," Patee said. "I didn't see any reason to question it at all. I talked with Mike on and off for the past two-and-a-half years and he never had a cross word."
The discovery of her remains late Monday was a heartbreaking turn for the girl's relatives, who considered Plumadore a family friend.
"He was a trusted family friend," Aliahna's step-grandfather, David Story, told The Associated Press late Monday.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries said Plumadore told investigators on Monday where the girl's body could be found, ending the hopes of authorities that Aliahna would be found safe.
"It did come to a horrible conclusion," Fries told WANE-TV. "We have somebody in custody now who can pay the price for it."
Aliahna had emotional, physical problems
Souders told The Journal Gazette on Sunday that her daughter had vision, hearing and emotional problems and suffered from attention deficit disorder.
Aliahna and her sisters were staying with Plumadore because their mother had been sick with the flu and Aliahna's stepfather works at night and sleeps during the day.
"This was a child with the face of an angel," Story told the newspaper. "She truly believed everybody had good in them, it just had to be found."
The sheriff said Plumadore was arrested after being interviewed by detectives for several hours Monday — and was also questioned Friday and Saturday.
"The story just didn't make sense to our investigators or to me when I first heard it," Fries said. "I thought this is the guy we needed to focus on. If we are going to find her, he's going to be the one who has the answers for us."
Elizabeth Watkins, who lives nearby, said residents are cautious and keep to themselves in part because of the number of sex offenders living in the mobile home park.
According to a state website, 15 registered sex offenders live in the park that numbers about two dozen homes. Watkins and she didn't know Plumadore and was shocked when told of the girl's death.
"I'm numb, I'm totally numb. I don't know what to think," she said.