Missing Toddler, Who Was Allegedly Kidnapped by an Uber Driver, Found Dead
A Pennsylvania woman named Sharena Nancy is accused of speeding off with the toddler on Saturday after she dropped off the child's father
Missing Pennsylvania toddler Nalani Johnson, who was allegedly abducted by a ride share driver on Saturday evening, has been found dead.
The 2-year-old’s lifeless body was discovered on Tuesday in Pine Ridge Park in Blairsville, District Attorney Patrick Dougherty revealed in a news conference.
“Unfortunately, we can confirm that the missing child was found here in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County,” Dougherty said at the conference according to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.
At this time, Nalani’s cause of death is unknown and an investigation into the incident is ongoing. An autopsy will be performed on Wednesday.
Dougherty added that the Pennsylvania State Police, the District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI are working “hand-in-hand” on the case.
Following the discovery, Allegheny County Police Department Superintendent Coleman McDonough released a statement on Facebook, extending “my deepest sympathies to the family of Nalani Johnson.”
“This is not the outcome that any of us would have wished. We will continue to keep the Johnson family in our thoughts.”
Sharena Nancy, 25, was arrested for allegedly kidnapping Nalani and is in Allegheny County Jail, facing charges of kidnapping of a minor, interference with custody of children and concealment of the whereabouts of a child.
Nancy, who was reportedly a driver for Lyft and Uber, is accused of speeding off with the little girl on Saturday evening near Pittsburgh after she dropped off Nalani’s father, Paul Johnson.
When she was arrested just a few hours later, Nalani was nowhere to be found.
Police say officers received a call from Nalani’s father at around 5 p.m., claiming his daughter had been kidnapped by Nancy.
He explained that she fled in a black Yaris SUV.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by WTAE, Nalani’s father alleged that he was in a car driven by Nancy with his daughter and a friend when they stopped at an intersection to get out. He told police that when he stepped out of the vehicle, Nancy drove off with his daughter.
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He alleged he attempted to reach Nancy on the phone but she never picked up.
Nancy was apprehended in nearby Monroeville around 8 p.m. Saturday.
However, she had a much different story about what happened.
During an interview with police, she alleged Nalani’s father asked her to take his daughter to an “unnamed individual” who bought her for $10,000, WTAE reports.
Nancy allegedly claimed she dropped off the child with a person driving a silver SUV and out-of-state plates.
Police have not tracked down or found any evidence pertaining to the SUV, according to the complaint.
Police have since said they now believe that Nancy was not just the family’s rideshare driver but instead was in a relationship with the father.
“Sharena Nancy and Paul Johnson became acquainted intermittently over the last few months — so they were known to each other,” Superintendent McDonough said at a news conference held with Nelani’s grandmother. “They were friends, they were in the beginnings of an intermittent romantic relationship.”
“We believe that an argument ensued at approximately 5 p.m. or so. Mr. Johnson and [Johnson’s friend] exited the vehicle with the intention of taking Nalani with them when Ms. Nancy pulled away with the child in the vehicle.”
Nancy’s husband, Raihan Uddin who is currently overseas, told KDKA that he spoke to Nancy, who he said was working as a rideshare driver Saturday, around the time of the abduction and she never mentioned the child.
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“She has me on the dashboard, so I mean I saw the car – the whole thing. She called the video off, but I still could hear her,” he said.
Uddin said he spoke to his wife again after her arrest and she denied having anything to do with the child’s disappearance.
“I don’t know if she did or if she didn’t,” he said. “One part of me believes that she can. Another part is like – nothing’s been found. It has to be solved and you can’t make conclusions.”
In a statement, an Uber representative told PEOPLE, “We don’t have anyone by that name who took trips on the app this past weekend.”
Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the Allegheny County Police Tip Line at 1-833-255-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.