Police say father kept 3-year-old in the freezer - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Police say father kept 3-year-old in the freezer

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Horrifying new details are emerging about a missing Savannah mother and daughter.

Police in Winterhaven, Florida, last week discovered two bodies in a shallow grave in an orange grove. They believe the remains are Ronkeya Holmes and her daughter Masaraha. A newly-released arrest warrant says Masaraha's father, Lester Ross, kept her in a freezer for months before burying her.

[Click here to read the police affidavit]

"That's the hardest part in the world to really believe," said Ronkeya's mother, Edith Fletcher. "You can't even imagine that. It's like a horror story."

In an affidavit, Lester Ross' wife Sharon told police she came home and found little Masaraha dead in May 2009. Sharon Ross said her husband told her it was an accident, and put the child in the deep freezer.

"My heart goes out for the baby," said ," Fletcher. "To know you can kill your own daughter and put her in the freezer for that length of time..."

In the affidavit, Sharon Ross said nearly six months later, she watched her husband load two "items" wrapped in sheets into the trunk of a car.

She says she went with him to a nearby orange grove where he took the two "items" out of the car and came back without them. It's the same orange grove police found the bodies.

Sharon Ross says she is just confessing all of this now because her husband threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

Ronkeya's mother says that is no excuse. "I just hope God has mercy on both of them because if you waited this long to tell, you are just as much at fault as he is," Fletcher said.

On October 14, 2009, Ronkeya traveled from her home in Savannah to Winterhaven to pick up Masarahaa. Ross was caring for Masarahaa while Ronkeya finished technical college.

According to the arrest affidavit, Ronkeya told family members on October 18 that she was meeting Lester at Walmart to pick up Masarahaa. Family members told authorities Ronkeya said she was having trouble meeting Lester, and that as soon as she picked up her daughter she would be going back to Savannah.

Ronkeya's aunt said she saw Ronkeya logged into Facebook in the morning hours of October 19, and tried to message her but got no response. After a subpoena from police, Facebook said her account was active from 11:46pm on October 18 until 12:08am on October 19. Facebook told authorities the IP address traced back to Lester's house.

Officers said Ronkeya made several calls to her family from her cell phone on October 20 to try and get her vehicle out of the Seminole County impound. Her family reports that she sounded stressed, and would hang up when they offered to come get her. That was the last time anyone heard from Ronkeya.

Police say they believe Ross killed Holmes to hide the fact that Masarahaa was dead. Police are awaiting an autopsy report to charge Ross with their deaths. Ross is currently being charged with tampering with or harassing a witness.

Police aren't saying whether they will charge his wife.

A memorial fund has been established for Ronkeya and Masaraha. To make a contribution contact SunTrust Bank 2815 Skidaway Road Savannah, Georgia.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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