By: KARMA ALLEN, ABC News
(PHILADELPHIA) — Police are searching for the body of a Philadelphia toddler who was allegedly abducted and murdered by his babysitter earlier this month.
Family members said 2-year-old King Hill had been presumed dead by police on Monday, nearly two weeks after he vanished from his home in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.
Police arrested 24-year-old Tianna Parks of Philadelphia on multiple counts Monday, including murder, interference with the custody of children, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice.
“The death of King Hill is an unbearable tragedy that is compounded by Tianna Parks’ actions,” Philadelphia District Attorney Krasner said in a statement Monday. “This precious baby’s family and community deserve to know how he died. They deserve the opportunity to bury and mourn him with dignity. This child deserved so much better in life. My office will continue to work alongside the Philadelphia Police and FBI to seek justice for his death.”
Police said Marvin Reese, King’s stepfather, dropped off the child with Parks at least two weeks before making the missing persons report. Reese initially told police that King was last seen by a babysitter who claimed to have returned King to his mother on July 8. But the toddler’s mother said he was never dropped off and she assumed he was still in his stepfather’s care.
Family members said they called police as soon as they realized King was missing on July 8, but police believe the child was last seen alive on July 5. Investigators with the Philadelphia Police Department along with the FBI said cellphone and video evidence led them to believe that the child had died.
“Wherever he is at, whatever happened to him, just bring him back so we can put King to rest,” Kimberly Hill, King’s maternal grandmother, told ABC affiliate WPVI-TV on Monday. “He was amazing, everybody loved King.”
Parks was being held without bail on Monday. It’s unclear if she has retained an attorney.
Philadelphia Police Department Capt. Mark Burgmann said the case was one of the toughest in his 40-year career.
“We’ve put a tremendous amount of resources to this, probably more resources than we’ve ever devoted to any other investigation I’ve had here in the past over 40 years,” he said during a press conference last week. “We’re leaving no stone unturned here. We’re not going to stop until the child returns.”
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