‘We keep hope that perhaps she’s still alive’: Search for missing 5-year-old S.C. girl enters third day

Updated: Aug. 7, 2019 at 11:32 AM EDT
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SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - The search for a missing 5-year-old girl who has not been seen since her mother was found dead continues into its third day.

Nevaeh Lashy Adams is described as 4′3″ and about 50 lbs, with braided black hair and colored beads.

Daunte Maurice Johnson (Source: SPD)
Daunte Maurice Johnson (Source: SPD)

Around 6 p.m. Monday, police said a family member found Adams’ mother, 29-year-old Sharee Bradley, dead inside the Lantana Apartments in Sumter.

PREVIOUS STORY | S.C. mother found dead, 5-year-old daughter missing

Officers quickly arrested Daunte Maurice Johnson, 28, at a home on Susie Rembert Street and charged him with murder in Bradley’s death.

Police learned Bradley had three children: a 3-year-old son, a 13-year-old son, and 5-year-old Adams. After an extensive search, officials were able to locate two of the three children -- but not Adams.

Tuesday, officers said Johnson gave them information that indicated he killed both the mother and her daughter. But as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Adams’ body has not yet been found.

The suspect also told officers some things to help police find the girl’s body.

In their search for the child, officers have checked abandoned units at Lantana Apartments, wooded areas, adjacent properties, and landfills, Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said.

“We keep hope that perhaps she’s still alive,” Roark said. "We’re going to continue to search. We’re going to continue to take information. But based on what we know now, based on the information he’s provided us, she would be deceased.”

Watch Tuesday’s update from police in full below. (Story continues after video.)

Johnson told investigators he put Adams’ body in a dumpster, which was on the property owned by the City of Sumter. After receiving that information, officers partnered with the local sanitation department and the county landfill in hopes of finding Adams.

Officials later determined the contents of the dumpster was taken from the apartment complex, dumped into a truck, and taken to the county landfill. Authorities located 10 trucks slated to make their way to the transfer station in Richland County on Screaming Eagle Road.

In total, officials have searched through more than 200 tons of garbage.

"Finding this little girl is first and foremost and we have and will continue to use every resource available to make that happen,” Roark said in a press release. “Our prayers are with the family and we will continue to assist them throughout this tragic ordeal.”

Bradley was killed several hours before family made the gruesome discovery, the Sumter County coroner determined.

Police believe Adams was killed around the same time as her mother. However, Roark was not able to provide any information on how Bradley died because the investigation is ongoing.

Johnson said he was acquainted with Bradley, but police did not say how.

Latest on missing S.C. 5-year-old presumed dead

TONIGHT starting at 4, we'll have live team coverage from Sumter about the disappearance and presumed death of a 5-year-old girl whose mother was killed yesterday at an apartment complex. THE LATEST >> http://bit.ly/2ZCzf8v

Posted by WIS TV on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Johnson has a criminal record in other states and is a suspect in a homicide in Missouri, police said. In fact, Roark said Johnson was wanted for homicide in another state. Officers labeled him a “transient,” meaning he was just passing through Sumter and didn’t live there for long.

Many people have questioned why an Amber Alert was not issued for Adams. Sumter Police answered that in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, saying the case did not meet federal Amber Alert guidelines.

AMBER ALERT CRITERIA Notification was made to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. However, this particular case does not...

Posted by Sumter Police Department on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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