Detroit toddler found dead beneath pile of clothes in grandmother’s closet

Zyia Turner
Detroit toddler found dead beneath pile of clothes in grandmother’s closet
New York Daily NewsPhilip Caulfield
1 July 2012

Babysitting uncle arrested after 17-month-old is discovered after more than 12 hours missing.
Family initially feared the girl kidnapped. Autopsy results will take weeks.

Zyia Turner, 17 months, was missing for more than 12 hours before police dogs found her body in her grandmother's closet.

A baby girl in Detroit was discovered dead beneath a pile of clothes in her grandmother’s closet on Saturday morning, police said.

Police cadaver dogs found the body of 17-month-old Zyia Turner more than 12 hours after her family reported her missing.

The family called the death an accident.

An uncle who was baby-sitting Zyia and several other children, said the girl wandered away sometime around 3:30 p.m. Friday after while he was in another room, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Bridget Elam, the girl's grandmother, said she was doing some July 4th shopping when the uncle called and asked if she knew where the toddler was.

“What do you mean you can’t find her,” Elam told the uncle, according to the Free Press.

“The last I saw her, she was sitting on the dining room floor eating cereal. That’s when everything went to a panic.”

The girl's father, Emmanuel Turner, 25, rushed home from a local park and the family called police.

Authorities issued an amber alert throughout the city.

The girl's mother, Erica James, initially told news crews that she feared the girl had been kidnapped.

“I just, I just want my baby...I just wish whoever had her would bring her back," James said to local station WXYZ on Friday afternoon.

Footage of the house broadcast on WXYZ the next day showed piles of clothes, toys and furniture strewn across the bedroom and the closet where Zyia was found.

Nearly a dozen family members live at the home, according to local reports.

An autopsy was completed, but police were waiting to release the cause of death until after a toxicology screening, which could take weeks.

The uncle, who was not identified, was arrested, and the rest of the family was cooperating, cops said.

"This is an ongoing investigation and individuals are being questioned by the Detroit Police Department’s Homicide Investigators," police said in a release.

Elam told WXYZ she suspected the girl wandered into the closet and was smothered when some clothes fell on her.

“My grandkids… they’re blaming themselves, like we didn’t search the area,” she said. "But you can’t put that on you. It was a bad accident. It was a very bad accident that we just have to deal with.”

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