2-year-old Pittsburgh area girl found dead three days after driver sped off with her in car

The girl's father and his friend had just gotten out of the vehicle when the driver left before the father could retrieve his daughter, police said.

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By Alex Johnson and David K. Li

Authorities discovered the body of a 2-year-old girl in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday, three days after they said she was kidnapped by a woman who speeded off with the girl in her car.

The body of Nalani Johnson was discovered in Pine Ridge Park, in Indiana County about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said. He said no details on the cause or time of death were immediately available pending an autopsy scheduled for Wednesday.

Dougherty said Sharena Islam Nancy, 25, remained in custody on charges of kidnapping, interference with custody of children and concealment of whereabouts of a child.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Allegheny County, investigators said Nancy drove off with Nalani after the girl's father, Paul Johnson, 21, got out of Nancy's 2017 Toyota Yaris near Bryant and Clay drives in the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills on Saturday afternoon.

Responding officers said that they found Johnson "crying and visibly upset" and that he told police "that Sharena Islam Nancy had just kidnapped Johnson's daughter," the complaint said.

Sharena Islam Nancy was arrested in connection with the abduction of Nalani Johnson.Allegheny County Jail

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Police issued an Amber Alert before Nancy was pulled over about a mile away at 7:26 p.m., according to the court document.

"At the time of that stop, neither the child nor the child's seat were located in the vehicle," Allegheny County police Supt. Coleman McDonough told reporters Tuesday.

Nancy told investigators that Johnson was selling Nalani for $10,000 and that she helped with the scheme by dropping off the child at a gas station along U.S. Route 22 in nearby Monroeville, according to the complaint.

Investigators don't believe Nancy's story.

"At this point, we have nothing to corroborate or suggest that version of events is credible," McDonough said.

Johnson and Nancy had become "acquainted through social media" in recent months and were "in the beginning of an intermittent romantic relationship," according to McDonough.

Nalani Johnson, 2, was abducted in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019.Allegheny County Police Department

They and a friend of Johnson's, Justin Rouse, had spent several hours together on Saturday before they got into an argument, police said.

"At that point, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Rouse exited the vehicle with the intention of taking Nalani with them, and Ms. Nancy pulled away with the child in the vehicle," McDonough said.

The case drew national attention when it was learned that Nancy's car bore Lyft and Uber stickers on its front passenger-side window. But in the end, the incident appeared to have nothing to do with the ride-sharing services.

Lyft said in a statement Tuesday that Nancy wasn't driving on-duty at the time of the alleged kidnapping and that "we have permanently banned this individual from driving with Lyft."

Uber told NBC affiliate WPXI of Pittsburgh that no one using the name Sharena Nancy used its app during the weekend.

Ben Kesslen contributed.