COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It was a heartbreaking outcome no one wanted to hear, but a missing 5-year-old from Sumter can finally be laid to rest.
Nevaeh Adams was missing for two months, having disappeared the day her mother was murdered.
Tuesday, police said they found her remains late last week in the Richland Landfill in Elgin.
The Sumter police chief broke down the timeline of events in the case, beginning with the day 29-year-old Sharee Bradley, Nevaeh’s mother, was found dead at the Lantana Apartments where she lived. That was Aug. 5.
Sumter police say Bradley’s son found her body rolled up in a rug inside her apartment. The coroner determined she had been stabbed to death.
Reportedly seen leaving the scene of the crime, 28-year-old Daunte Johnson was arrested that night. Police say within hours, he confessed to killing Bradley and Nevaeh, claiming he stabbed the little girl and dumped her remains in a nearby dumpster.
That kicked off an extensive, months-long search of area landfills and garbage trucks containing millions of pounds of trash.
Videos released by Sumter Police and SLED provided a look at the massive search efforts at the Richland Landfill. At times, volunteers had to wear HAZMAT suits in triple digit heat.
With some help from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children and multiple state agencies, Nevaeh’s remains were discovered Friday, Oct. 18.
The police chief called the discovery bittersweet.
“We located human remains, and it in fact was Nevaeh that we had located in the landfill,” Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said. "It’s our hope that as we go throughout the coming days that we begin to heal as a family.”
Dupray Adams is Nevaeh’s father. Right after police broke the news, he talked to reporters to express his gratitude to authorities and also share his struggles and sadness.
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- Police: Evidence suggests missing 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams is dead, suspect charged with murder
- Mother of St. Louis homicide victim says accused Sumter killer is responsible
- Recap of what we know on the tragic death of Sharee Bradley, and search efforts of Nevaeh Adams
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“I thank them so much for the time they have spent out there," Adams said. "It’s just that I have to settle for DNA. It’s not visually telling me that’s her. I wanted to actually be able to identify my daughter, besides DNA.”
Adams said he finds some peace knowing Nevaeh is gone.
“I know she’s in a better place. I rest with that. I’m good with that," Adams said. "At least I know she’s not out there being harmed. So, at least she’s not going through that, and that was one of my biggest things -- wondering if she’s out there, wondering if someone’s harming her. Her last moments of going through whatever she went through, what was she thinking? What was she feeling? Those things is what breaks me down, but now that I know that she’s with the Father, that weight is lifted off of me.”
Johnson remains in police custody on multiple charges, including two counts of murder.
He’s also accused of killing a woman in St. Louis after stealing her car back in June. Police said he had that woman’s car when he killed Bradley and Nevaeh.