BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) – A body discovered in a deep freezer at a Bradenton home on Sunday night is believed to be that of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, who has not been seen since August of 2014.
Her mother, Keishanna Thomas, 31, is in jail, charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse in connection with two incidents involving her 12-year-old son.
Police say the body was found in the garage of a home in the 5000 block of 21st Way East in Bradenton — the home of the grandmother and aunt of Janiya Thomas. They tell detectives the girl’s mother, Keishanna Thomas, dropped the freezer off earlier in the week. They decided to break the lock and look inside Sunday night after they learned Janiya was missing and contacted police upon discovering the body.
After securing a search warrant, police plan to turn over the body to the medical examiner’s office Monday to determine the identity of the body and cause of death.
The state was investigating a child abuse complaint against Keishanna Thomas earlier this month when they discovered one of her five children was missing. Detectives say records show state workers last made contact with Janiya in August 2014.
The disturbing case has many people wondering how a child could vanish undetected for more than a year. The Manatee County School District told News Channel 8 that the school had not seen Janiya in school since May of 2013. Her mother told the school district that she was being home schooled. When the school district didn’t get the annual home school evaluation from Janiya’s mother, they followed up in 2014 and the district was told “Jinaya no longer lives in the district.”
On Friday, Oct. 16, the Bradenton Police Department was contacted by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to assist in the search of Janiya Thomas. The girl had not been seen since August 2014. Janiya’s family lived at the Village at Cortez Apartments, at 4880 51st St W. in Bradenton.
Detectives originally arrested Keishanna Thomas on Friday for contempt of court, after she refused to answer questions about Janiya’s whereabouts. Her four other children are now in state custody.
Bradenton Police detectives say Thomas is not cooperating with the investigation.
They plan to interview a man on Monday who they believe helped her drop the freezer off at the home last week.