Uber kidnapping: Missing toddler found dead in park after allegedly being taken by rideshare driver
The Pennsylvania toddler who was allegedly kidnapped by an Uber driver was found dead on Tuesday evening, according to Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV.
Nalani Johnson, who had been missing since Saturday, was found in a park in Blairsville, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles east from where she was originally taken.
Sharena Nancy, a 25-year-old Uber driver, was already being held in jail on charges that she kidnapped the two-year-old girl. Authorities have not yet said whether she is a suspect in the girl's murder.
"We believe that she is involved. To what extent, that is still being determined," Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said of the case.
The alleged kidnapping took place around 5 pm on Saturday evening, while Nalani's father, Paul Johnson, was riding in Nancy's vehicle when they stopped at a junction. Johnson told police that as he was exiting the car — which was marked with both Uber and Lyft stickers — Nancy sped off with his daughter.
Nancy was arrested just a few hours after the alleged incident, but Nalani was nowhere to be found. Police interrogated Nancy, and she gave a very different story than Johnson's.
In her version, Johnson sold his daughter to an unnamed individual for £8,000 and asked her to help him finish the transaction. Police have yet to determine exactly what motivated the alleged kidnapping, but authorities said they believe Johnson and Nancy may have also been romantically involved and that Nancy was more than just his Uber driver.
Nalani's cause of death is still unknown, but state police are collaborating with the FBI to investigate the case.
"This is not the outcome that any of us would have wished. We will continue to keep the Johnson family in our thoughts," Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said in a Facebook post Tuesday evening.
Nancy's husband, Raihan Uddin, told WTAE that he video-chatted with his wife on Saturday evening and that she didn't say anything about Nalani or a kidnapping.
"She has me on the dashboard, so I mean I saw the car — the whole thing," Uddin said. "She called the video off, but I still could hear her."
Before Nalani's body was found, Uddin told the station he wasn't sure about his wife's level of involvement.
"I don't know if she did or if she didn't," he told WTAE. "One part of me believes that she can. Another part is like — nothing's been found. It has to be solved and you can't make conclusions."