CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Chesterfield County officials said the 19-year-old mother who is the prime suspect in the death of her 11-month-old daughter was distressed because the child's father was dead and his family wanted to get custody of the child.
Breanna Lewis, 19, originally told officials that her 11-month-old daughter, Harlee Lane Lewis, was snatched from her arms and taken away by an unknown man who also assaulted her.
"She said the part about the kidnapping and the assault, she said it was 'playing like a movie in my mind," Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks said.
On May 29, Harlee was found dead in a diaper box in a plastic bag about 1,000 yards away from her home two hours after the initial report by two deputies, the sheriff said. Lewis confessed that she made up her original story of the assault and abduction. Her black eye was sustained from a car accident she was in prior to the incident.
"The hardest part of this, is how do you put a baby in a garbage bag and throw it away?" Brooks said as he choked back tears.
Lewis told investigators that she blacked out and does so during traumatic events and doesn't remember or know how Harlee died.
Lewis has been charged with giving false information, and improper removal of human remains, and destroying DNA evidence. She was given a $71,000 bond Wednesday night and is currently being held in solitary confinement at the Chesterfield County Jail under suicide watch. Brooks said she has not had any mental evaluations at this time.
Brooks said Breanna told investigators that Harlee had "pushed her to the brink." She has no other children.
Harlee's cause of death has not been released and Sheriff Brooks said her autopsy results cannot be released at this time because of a South Carolina state law requiring the information be turned over to a child fatality review team. But the sheriff did say that it is possible that Harlee could have died of natural causes.
Brooks described Lewis as a transient who "will move in a heartbeat" and was in a relationship with another woman. Lewis did not have any open DSS cases and was receiving WIC. Despite that, Brooks said the coroner mentioned that Harlee was "mighty small" for an 11-month-old.
Harlee's father, who was not named, committed suicide last October. Lewis's girlfriend, who was working at the time, told investigators that it appeared that Harlee was well taken care of and didn't have any issues.
"The family had some issues," Brooks said.
She had no previous run-ins with the law and had been in a car wreck last week. Even at the car wreck, Sheriff Brooks described an inconsolable Brooks asking where her baby was. Harlee was with a babysitter at the time.
Deputies are also executing a new search warrant on the house Lewis was living in on Thursday.
Sheriff Brooks said the community will hold a candlelight vigil in Harlee's memory on June 6 at 6 p.m. at the main courthouse in Chesterfield County.
Anyone with information about the case should call the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office at 843-623-2101 or 911 immediately.