New Orleans Police: Suspect in 4-year-old's death captured

1 year 7 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, October 28 2020 Oct 28, 2020 October 28, 2020 8:57 AM October 28, 2020 in News
Source: Associated Press
Anfernee Steele

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana man was captured almost two weeks after being named a suspect in the death of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter, authorities said.

Anfernee Steele, 21, was arrested Tuesday and charged with cruelty to a juvenile and second-degree murder in the Oct. 3 death of Jo’nyri Hawkins, news outlets reported.

New Orleans police said Steele had been on the run since Oct. 15. New Orleans police, Houma police, Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. Marshals, and Crimestoppers worked together to find Steele on Tuesday at an apartment complex in Houma.

Police said Jo’nyri’s mother left Jo’nyri and her siblings alone with Steele in a room at the Sheraton Hotel on Oct. 3.

When the mother returned, she realized Jo’nyri was unresponsive, authorities said.

An autopsy revealed Jo’nyri died of “massive internal bleeding” following blunt trauma to her abdomen. The autopsy said she was likely hit in the stomach with so much force that it ruptured her liver and spleen.

Authorities said the child’s body also showed signs of previous physical and sexual abuse.

Police questioned Steele prior to the autopsy. He told police Jo’nyri soiled herself and he put her in the bathtub but stepped away from the bathroom to take a nap because he had smoked marijuana earlier.

Steele told police he heard the girl fall in the tub, so he pulled her out and put her to bed.

Investigators searched the hotel room but did not find evidence supporting Steele’s claim.

Following the autopsy, police believed Steele was responsible for Jo’nyri’s death.

If convicted, Steele would face a mandatory life sentence. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

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