PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the hours before she died District Attorney Stephen Zappala says little Nalani Johnson was with her father, a friend, and the woman now charged with her abduction Sharena Nancy.
“They were at Kennywood, then they went back to Penn Hills and she takes off with the child,” said Zappala.
The abduction following an argument between Paul Johnson and Nancy.
Zappala said technology tracked Nancy’s car and phone from Penn Hills to Blairsville and back where she was arrested.
With no sign of Nalani, the search began.
Zappala: “I don’t think any effort that was undertaken after Saturday would have saved that child’s life.”
Shumway: “ You think she was dead when she was left in the park.”
Zappala: “We discussed that but that’s for the coroner to ultimately tell us.”
In a wooded area of Pine Ridge Park Nalani’s body was found in her upright car seat three days after she was abducted.
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“The car seat is on the ground and the child is strapped in it as you would strap a child in a car.” The spot in the woods so remote Zappala concludes, “Clearly her intention was for somebody not to find that child.”
How Nalani, she would have turned two September 15th, died is up to the coroner to determine. Zappala says, “One conclusion I can share with you is that the baby didn’t die from exposure. Which gives some solace because that is a particularly agonizing way to die.”
Among things the coroner will be looking at is suffocation, “There’s some test they want to run, they eliminated exposure, they eliminate trauma, there are no ligature marks so you can eliminate strangulation.”
The autopsy results could take up to six weeks.
While a fight between Nancy and Paul Johnson might have sparked the abduction Zappala does not consider Johnson a suspect in the case.
“The only evidence we have right now indicates the defendant, the person who is under arrest for the kidnapping charges is responsible for taking that baby and ultimately the homicide that’s involved,” Zappala said.
As for a motive Zappala said, “There is a lot we need to look at as far as this women’s psyche, why she did what she did, so there are a lot of things that have to be answered.”
Zappala said once the autopsy comes back a criminal homicide charge will be filed against Sharena Nancy in a case he acknowledges has gripped the community.
“We’re a community that is strong in belief of family and people dedicate their lives to raising children and it’s just senseless right now I mean in terms of the loss of that baby’s life,” he said.
He says its too early to know whether they will seek the death penalty.