Man tied to missing toddler's death may face additional charges
BATON ROUGE - Officials say a 2-year-old who went missing from a Baton Rouge apartment and was ultimately found dead across state lines did not die of natural causes.
The East Baton Rouge Coroner's Office released a preliminary autopsy report Monday calling Nevaeh Allen's death a homicide. The coroner has not yet determined a cause of death for the child, which is pending further examination.
The toddler's body was found in a remote area of Mississippi on Sunday, two days after she was reported missing.
Cardwell's live-in boyfriend, Philip Gardner, was looking after the girl when she disappeared Friday and initially told investigators that Nevaeh disappeared after he fell asleep that afternoon, kicking off a sprawling search for the child at the apartment complex on La Belle Avenue.
Gardner—described by family and police as the toddler's stepfather—changed his story when questioned by police, claiming he found Nevaeh lifeless and unresponsive Friday. Gardner later admitted he dumped the body in Logtown, Mississippi without alerting authorities to what happened.
Sources told WBRZ that Gardner led officers to the area where he left the 2-year-old's body.
Gardner was booked Sunday on charges of obstruction of justice and unlawful disposal of remains.
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