Leila Cavett still is missing after she was last reported seen on July 25, a day before her abandoned 2-year-old son was found wandering near a Florida apartment complex
Leila Cavett
Leila Cavett and her son, Kamdyn
| Credit: Miramar Police Department/Facebook

An Alabama man and self-described witch has been charged with second-degree murder in the presumed death of a missing mom, Leila Cavett, who was 21 when she was last seen in July.

Authorities arrested Shanon Demar Ryan in August, nearly three weeks after discovering Cavett's 2-year-old son, Kamdyn, on July 26 wandering alone near an apartment complex in Miramar, Fla., wearing only a T-shirt and a diaper. At the time, Ryan was held on charges of kidnapping and lying to a federal officer.

Those charges were dropped in April, when the state added a charge against Ryan of child neglect without great bodily harm, according to NBC Miami.

The additional murder charge, along with a charge of tampering with evidence, was announced Tuesday by police in Hollywood, Fla., reports The Miami Herald.

Cavett, who was visiting South Florida from Atlanta, was last seen on the day before her toddler turned up. Her body has not been found.

Shanon Demar Ryan
Shanon Demar Ryan
| Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office

After the search for Cavett began, Ryan, who gave his address as Muscle Shoals, Ala., posted a 50-minute video on his Facebook page in which he acknowledged that he was a subject of inquiry, but declared his innocence. On that page Ryan said he practices "Witchcraft, Knowledge of Self, Kemetic Kundalini & Chakra meditation, Kemetic Science, Health, wellness, fitness, [and] mentorship."

He said in the video that he met Cavett in 2019, when Cavett knocked on his door one night after her car broke down seeking a place for her and her son to stay. He said he taught her witchcraft over the next two months.

He said the two recently reconnected, and that Cavett had traveled to Florida from her home in Georgia to sell Ryan her pickup truck, according to court documents cited by NBC Miami.

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Ryan claims in the video that the two met up in a parking lot in Hollywood to smoke marijuana. Afterwards, they stopped at a nearby gas station, he claims, and spent the rest of the day eating and hanging out at the beach.

He says they returned hours later to the same RaceTrac gas station in Hollywood, where Ryan claims he watched Cavett and her child leave in a car with two men that had pulled up moments before, after someone in that vehicle had asked Cavett if she "partied."

"Leila got her and her son and got in the car with those guys," he says in the video.

But no video evidence from the station could be found to corroborate Ryan's account of the interaction, according to a criminal complaint. Authorities who interviewed several station employees said one who recognized a photo of Ryan recalled Ryan using the RaceTrac dumpster. According to the complaint, another employee recalled seeing children's toys and women's clothing in the dumpster on or around July 26.

In an arrest report, police said Ryan was seen on video buying trash bags and carpet cleaner, and they alleged that he had searched Google using the phrase, "does bleach and alcohol make chloroform."

Surveillance video from July 27 shows Ryan dragging black garbage bags from the truck to a dumpster and throwing away what appeared to be bloody towels, the arrest report states.

Cell phone records also placed Ryan in the apartment complex where Cavett's son was found.

It took two days for police to identify the toddler. Cavett's white Chevy pickup truck then turned up July 28 in a Walmart parking lot close to where the municipalities of Miramar and Hollywood share a border.

Ryan is being held in the Broward County jail without bond, according to online jail records, which did not list an attorney who might speak on his behalf.