I'm confused. Why is the MOTHER being charged but there is no mention of the step-father (who allegedly kicked the girl in the head in the first place AND disposed of the body) being charged?!
KC police identify 'Precious Doe,' charge mother
Thursday, May 5, 2005
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police charged an Oklahoma woman on Thursday with the murder of her daughter, who had become known as Precious Doe after her decapitated body was found here four years ago.
The charge against Michelle Johnson came soon after the girl, Erica Michelle Maria Green, who was almost 4, was identified through a tip, authorities said.
Kansas City Police Chief James Corwin said "the little girl we've known for four years as Precious Doe finally has a name."
The girl's body was found near an intersection on April 28, 2001, with her head later found nearby, wrapped in a trash bag.
Her story had deeply touched the community. "Everyone over here is excited beyond words," said Capt. Rich Lockhart, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department.
Johnson, of Muskogee, Okla., was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Prosecutor Mike Sanders said Johnson was being held on $500,000 bond in Muskogee and would be extradited to Kansas City "as soon as possible." He did not immediately provide any other details about her.
Sanders said more charges are "very likely in this case, very soon." A team of Kansas City law enforcement officers were in Muskogee Thursday conducting more interviews.
Sanders said that on about April 28, the girl's stepfather kicked Erica in the head and she lay in the house for two days.
"After it was fairly certain ... that she was no longer with us, they decided to take her to the church," Sanders said. "At that point, he takes her out of the car, takes her back into the wooded area, and obviously we find her later."
He said the girl was alive for some part of those two days but investigators were not sure when she died.
Capt. Rich Lockhart, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department, said a call police got last week directed them to an Oklahoma couple and resulted in a break in the case.
Detectives went to Muskogee, Okla., on Wednesday to interview members of the family after getting a second tip from a man living there who said he was related to the child. An initial investigation last year of a tip from the same man did not produce any solid leads.
The Oklahoma man also contacted Alonzo Washington, a community activist who has championed efforts to identify the little black girl.
On Tuesday, Washington received a package containing a photo of the woman the man said was the child's mother, pictured with several children, including one that the Oklahoma man said he believed to be Erica. Washington gave the photo to police.
Washington said Thursday he was happy that Precious Doe had remained in the minds of police and the community. "There's something about it that just bothers me that a child could be thrown away and people forget about it," he said.
The case had gripped Kansas City residents since the body was found.
In the months following, hundreds volunteered to answer witness hot lines and pass out fliers with an artist's rendering of the girl and a bust of her head; hundreds more prayed and sang at candlelight vigils.
The quest to give the little girl a name put her story on the "America's Most Wanted" and "Today" television shows and in newspapers across the country. An advertising company donated 20 billboards with her picture and the words "Who Am I?"
When she was finally buried in December 2001, hundreds of mourners turned out for a church service that featured children singing, dancing and reading Scripture.
Hopes of identifying her were raised briefly the following spring, after Florida child welfare officials realized that they had lost track of a girl in foster care for more than a year, but DNA tests showed that Precious Doe was not that girl, 5-year-old Rilya Wilson.
A makeshift memorial full of poems, teddy bears and flowers to Precious was eventually replaced by a permanent monument to the girl. T-shirts, bumper stickers and fliers with the child's picture were passed out on city streets and vigils were still held to honor her memory.
On Thursday morning, someone had placed a sign at the memorial reading, "My Name Is Erica Michelle Maria Green."