Local News

Harnett sheriff retains custody of baby's body

Posted May 1, 2009

— For more than 18 months, the family of a little girl who died under mysterious circumstances has waited to bury her. But the body remains locked up in the Harnett County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies found the remains of 11-month-old Harmony Jade Creech in her mother's attic in October 2007. The baby had been wrapped in a plastic bag and stuffed in an empty diaper box in a corner of the attic, authorities said.

Family wants baby's remains back

The body was so badly decomposed that medical examiners have never been able to determine a cause of death.

Yet the skeletal remains are considered crucial evidence in the murder case against Harmony's mother, and Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks ordered that the Harnett County Sheriff's Office retain custody of the remains until after a trial.

Johni Michelle Heuser, 25, of 1680 Ray Road in Spring Lake, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case.

When the child's father, Sgt. Ronald Creech II, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, returned from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, Heuser claimed the baby had been abducted, prompting a statewide Amber Alert.

She later told investigators that she found the baby dead in her crib weeks earlier and hid the death out of fear.

"When my son got home from Iraq, he was supposed to take leave and bring her so I could see her for the first time," Harmony's grandfather, Ron Creech, said in a telephone interview from his Alabama home. "What it's done to my son and the problems he's experiencing because of this and to have to deal with this on a daily basis and not able to get his baby back, it's just one big nightmare."

The Harnett County District Attorney's Office said the state and the defense teams might require additional testing on the remains before the murder trial because no cause of death has been determined.

A trial date for Heuser hasn't been set.

Ron Creech said he finds the situation incredulous. Harmony's remains have been sent to Texas and Canada for several months of tests, as well as to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill, he said, and "enough is enough."

"Send the baby on. We're ready to put her in the ground. We're ready to get this over with," he said.

23 Comments

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  • etsisk May 1, 7:01 p.m.

    with all due respect, y'all are reacting out of emotion rather than reason, here. First of all, the child's body is NOT in the
    "sheriff's file room" (that's absurd). It's being stored in the medical examiner's facility. You talk about wanting the child's mother punished, but you then want to be quick about burying the child, losing potential evidence? Some bodies ARE held until after the trial, contrary to some folks' opinions. You have to take the longer view here - the child is dead, won't be any more dead if they hold the funeral until after the trial. The father is NOT going to "feel better" just because there is a funeral - not by a long shot. The body is NOT being "desecrated", for crying out loud. If they didn't CARE, they'd just release the body for burial. There's a lot going on that y'all don't understand or know about.

    The Obama comment is just deranged - get help, dude.

  • MamaDummy May 1, 4:43 p.m.

    I agree APXmom. Why is this little angel's body being desecrated by the system? If it were an adult, would it still be held by the Sheriff's dept.; or is it because she is such a small being, she does not matter, her remains wont be in the way...makes you wonder if that is the mentality of the ones who made such a decision.

  • adamandrew04 May 1, 4:24 p.m.

    Let the baby's remains go to her father and grandfather so they can have closure and let the child be laid to rest in peace.

  • deannaandgrace May 1, 4:01 p.m.

    Arthur in the Garden.. How disrespectful can you be???!!! This is about a helpless child and a grieving family! May this family find some peace and may the child rest in peace. God is taking care of her :)

  • mrduright May 1, 2:23 p.m.

    aintbackingdwn-

    What does President Obama have to do with this. He wasn’t in North Carolina in October 2007. And for the record the Gestapo is separate from the SS. I would think you are more familiar with the groups if not a full member.

  • are you kidding me May 1, 2:17 p.m.

    Good chance LE will be unable to determine cause of death! 18 months...well I guess you can hold the body until new science comes out! Just terrible!

  • kimmarienc May 1, 1:37 p.m.

    ""Send the baby on. We're ready to put her in the ground. We're ready to get this over with," he said.", said by the baby's grandfather.....

    Is it me, but I can't imagine being a grandparent to a murdered grandchild and make this kind of comment. The baby's body ought to be a poster child for child neglect and child abuse. Frankly, I think that there are many, many people in the Anderson Creek area that should feel some responsibility for this child's death because it could have been prevented if someone in the community just took notice and spoke up. I also think that the Harnett County social worker from Child Protective Services ought to be reprimanded for not having taken this case seriously upon the first visit. However, it is too late now, isn't it? I hope that justice will be done in this heinous case.

  • St Ives May 1, 1:30 p.m.

    It seems all thet esting should ahve been done by now. Let this family bury their child.

  • affirmativediversity May 1, 1:18 p.m.

    Who can judge anyone's grief in a situation like this...But for the grace of God go I!

    BUT, I think I'd rather have justice for my child's murder than a funeral.

    I think there is more to this story than just "thoughtlessness" on the part of the prosecution. What if they release the body...the mother hasn't been convicted of anything...what happens if she talks the Dad into cremation...what if one of those "did you test for blah, blah questions does come up (like another blogger stated)...what then?

    Any peace this child is going to have, she is having now. Any peace this child's father will ever have will be years in the coming...a funeral will not put this father at peace, nor will it give him closure. As for the mother...may she never know another day of peace for putting her child in a plastic bag, stuffed in a diaper box in the attic!

  • WHEEL May 1, 1:08 p.m.

    It appears that Judge Weeks like many N.C. jurists needs a new job description: RETIRED!!

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