Mother of girl believed to be dead in freezer facing child abuse charges

Keishanna Thomas (Bradenton Police Department)

BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Children and Families has dispatched a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to investigate the tragedy of missing 11-year-old, Janiya Thomas.

Starting Tuesday, DCF will work with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to review the case with the family and figure out how this little girl slipped through the cracks of the system. The 11-year-old’s mother, 31-year-old Keishanna Thomas, is in jail. She’s facing charges of two counts of aggravated child abuse in connection with incidents involving her 12-year-old son. Officials say she is not cooperating with the investigation into Janiya.

Child Protective Services has investigated Keishanna Thomas ten times since 2003, including the most recent report which was initiated on Sept. 23, 2015.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families said, “The circumstances surrounding the death of Janiya Thomas are deeply disturbing.”

Janiya Thomas (Bradenton Police Department)
Janiya Thomas (Bradenton Police Department)

According to the Manatee County Jail, Thomas will be back in court Tuesday at 1 p.m. on additional child abuse charges.

Police found a child’s body, believed to be Janiya, in a freezer located in the garage of a home in the 5000 block of 21st Way East in Bradenton. That’s the home of Janiya Thomas’ grandmother and aunt. They tell detectives the girl’s mother dropped the locked freezer off earlier in the week.

Officials say relatives decided to break the lock and look inside Sunday night after they learned Janiya was missing. Police then turned over the body to the medical examiner’s office Monday to determine identity and cause of death.

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