Body Found in Freezer Believed to be Missing Florida Girl Janiya Thomas
Bradenton police believe they know the identity of the man who helped the mother of a missing 11-year-old girl move a freezer with a body inside.
Janiya Thomas, 11, was reported missing Friday night after the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Child Protective Investigations arrived at the apartment of Keishanna Thomas, 31, in the Village at Cortez to remove her five children. Only four were found, and Thomas refused to talk about her daughter’s location.
On Sunday night, police got a tip that Janiya Thomas’ body might be located in a freezer at the girl’s aunt and grandmother’s house in the 5000 block of 21st Way East. A man and Keishanna Thomas moved the freezer into the home on Wednesday, according to Bradenton Police Department spokesman Lt. James Racky.
Racky said police believe they know who the man is and are currently looking for him, though they are unsure of his relationship with Keishanna Thomas.
“We should be able to talk to him today,” Racky said.
A body was found in the freezer that police believe is Janiya Thomas, but Racky said they were still waiting on the medical examiner’s office for confirmation as of 6:45 a.m. Monday. The medical examiner’s office will also be able to speak to how long the body has been deceased. Janiya Thomas has been missing since August 2014, according to Child Protective Investigations.
Racky said he has no idea why it took over a year to get authorities involved in this case.
“Nobody told us until Friday night,” Racky said. “Her mother pulled her out of school because of her medical condition … and said she was home-schooling her in 2013.”
Janiya had a condition that affected her digestion and bowel movements and could not always tell when she had to go to the bathroom, Racky explained. The medical condition killed Janiya’s father and frustrated Keishanna Thomas.
Natalie Harrell, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said the four other children, ages 15, 12, 9 and 2, are in the department’s custody now. She said they had an open investigation against Thomas but referred specific requests about the case to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office CPI division.
Janiya last attended Manatee County public schools as a third-grade student at Manatee Elementary School in May 2013, said district spokesman Mike Barber. Barber could not immediately confirm whether and what type of home-school program Janiya was in, but said the district was looking deeper into their records.