Keishanna Thomas is suspected of killing her daughter Janiya

By Tara Fowler
Updated October 23, 2015 03:20 PM
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Credit: Bradenton Police Department

The mother of a missing 11-year-old girl who cops believe was the child found dead in a freezer on Sunday has been charged with abuse of a dead body, a Bradenton, Florida, police spokesman tells PEOPLE.

Keishanna Thomas is suspected of killing her daughter, Janiya Thomas, who hasn’t been seen alive in more than a year.

Authorities discovered Janiya was missing last Friday when Child Protective Services officials went to the family’s home to remove Thomas’ five children following a child abuse investigation involving her 12-year-old son.

When they couldn’t locate Janiya, they asked Thomas about her whereabouts, but she refused to answer. At that point, she was taken into custody and charged with contempt of court.

Then, on Sunday, police found the body they believe to be Janiya in a freezer after receiving a tip from one of the girl’s family members. The medical examiner has yet to confirm the identity of the body.

Since her arrest, Thomas has also been charged with aggravated child abuse for the alleged incident involving her son.

The mother appeared before a judge on Thursday, but still refused to answer questions on the whereabouts of her daughter.

However, Janiya’s siblings told investigators last weekend that they haven’t seen their sister in more than a year. “I think she is dead or something,” Janiya’s brother said, according to an arrest report obtained by PEOPLE. Janiya was last seen alive by Child Protective Services officials in June 2014.

“I don’t know where she is,” her brother added, when pressed for information on what happened to Janiya. “One day we went to school and came back, she was just gone.”

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski told PEOPLE earlier this week that he’s “flabbergasted” no one reported Janiya missing sooner. “There was a failure to do right by this girl,” he said.

Janiya’s siblings told police that their mother used to lock her in the bathroom for up to a week at a time as punishment for soiling herself, according to the arrest report. The 11-year-old suffered from a medical condition that caused her to lose control of her bowel movements at times.

Sometimes Janiya would try to sneak out of the bathroom, but if Thomas caught her, she allegedly threatened to beat her with a belt, the report states. It adds that Thomas would sleep in front of the bathroom door to keep her from escaping.

Thomas has not yet entered a plea to the charges against her. She faces additional charges if the body found in the freezer is confirmed to be Janiya.

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