Authorities say West Virginia woman Lena Lunsford killed her three-year-old daughter and hid the child’s death for five years. Lunsford was arrested Thursday and charged with death of a child by abuse, said Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy in a news conference Friday.
Police believe Lunsford hid her daughter Aliayah’s body and lied to officials after reporting Aliayah missing September 24, 2011, according to the Associated Press. Lunsford is believed to have hit her daughter in the head with a “blunt object,” as the Washington Post put it, in their Ben Dale home in Lewis County. Authorities said Lunsford watched Aliayah die after the blow, and said Lunsford asked witnesses to keep quiet.
“The investigation led us to believe that the one person who possesses this knowledge of Aliayah’s whereabouts is in police custody,” Gissy told reporters. Witnesses in Aliayah’s death came forward, but weren’t named in the criminal complaint.
When Lunsford reported her daughter missing, she told authorities she saw the girl in the morning, only to find she was gone later that day. Six months after the missing report, a FBI official told reporters they didn’t think Aliayah was abducted from her home.
The now 34-year-old Lunsford was living in Florida and after her arrest had to be extradited to West Virginia. Lunsford previously spent eight months in prison right after Aliayah’s “disappearance” for welfare fraud.