November 07, 2016 12:07 PM


After five years, West Virginia authorities investigating the disappearance of a 3-year-old girl have arrested her mother with her murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Lena Lunsford, 34, called 911 the morning of Sept. 24, 2011, to report her daughter, Aliayah Lunsford, was missing from her Weston home.

According to court records, Lunsford allegedly told investigators that when she checked in on her daughter earlier that morning, Aliayah was safe and sound, asleep in her bed.

But she allegedly said that when she returned to her daughter’s room hours later, Aliayah was gone. Lunsford was eight months pregnant at the time, and soon after, delivered twins, according to court records.

Lunsford was arrested on Thursday in Florida and is on her way back to West Virginia after waiving extradition, authorities tell PEOPLE.

For weeks following her disappearance, law enforcement officials scoured the county in search for the missing girl. The Federal Bureau of Investigation got involved, and dive teams searched a river close to Lunsford’s house.

Authorities believe Aliayah died inside her home, hours after sustaining blunt force trauma — allegedly at her own mother’s hands, according to court records. Investigators allege that Lunsford struck the little girl in the head with “a solid handheld object” and subsequently failed to bring the child to the hospital, the documents state.

She died within hours of the fatal blow.

Source: Justice 4 Aliayah Lunsford/Facebook
Source: Justice 4 Aliayah Lunsford/Facebook


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Lunsford allegedly tried covering up the murder by concocting a kidnapping story, the court records state. Police allege she destroyed evidence of the killing and hid her daughter’s body. She also allegedly threatened people who witnessed the crime, the documents state.

Lunsford was detained Thursday in Pinellas County, Florida, on a charge of death of a child by a parent by child abuse. She was no longer in Florida as of Monday, according to jail records.

Lunsford had been living in an apartment in St. Petersburg, Florida.

It is unclear if police have recovered Aliayah’s body, and little is known about what led investigators to the allegations against Lunsford.

It was not immediately clear if she had retained an attorney.

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