Mom Charged With Murder Expected in Court Monday
Posted October 21, 2007 1:22 a.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2007 4:55 p.m. EDT
Spring Lake — A Harnett County mother charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 11-month-old daughter is expected in court Monday morning.
Authorities arrested Johni Heuser, who goes by her middle name, Michelle, after they found the body of her daughter, Harmony Jade Creech, in the attic of the family's home Saturday.
Police charged Heuser, 25, with first-degree murder. She was confined to the Harnett County Detention Center with no bond.
"It's a tragic end to a sad situation for this family and for the community as well," Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said.
Harmony's body was found late Saturday afternoon hidden in the attic of 1680 Ray Road by crime scene investigators from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities issued a statewide Amber Alert on Friday after Harmony was reported missing. Fifteen Federal Bureau of Investigation agents assisted in the two-day search.
Police said Heuser gave a statement to investigators Saturday that she found the girl dead in her crib several weeks ago.
"She was in fear at that time and did not reveal to anyone about the child's death, and concealed that death," Rollins said.
Neighbors told The Associated Press they had been bothered by a foul smell for several weeks and that the smell only subsided recently when overnight temperatures dropped. Several neighbors said they had searched their yards for dead animals because of the smell.
An autopsy will be performed on the child's body to determined how she died, police said.
"The investigation continues and is active to find out the truth about everything and who knew what," Rollins said at a press conference earlier Saturday night.
Investigators continued to interview Heuser at the Harnett County Sheriff's Office late into Saturday night. Harmony's father, Ronald Earl Creech II, left the office around 10:30 p.m.
Creech returned from a 15-month deployment in Iraq Friday hoping to see his daughter. Harmony was born while he was overseas, but he was able to come home and see her once, police said. Creech is a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Harmony's grandmother picked up Creech from the airport Friday to take him to the house to see his daughter.
Heuser stayed behind at the house, police said. Heuser initially told police she last saw Harmony after putting her to bed Thursday night. She said Harmony was wearing pink pajamas with the words "Daddy's Girl" on them.
When police arrived at the house Friday, they discovered that a pink bed sheet, a few bibs and most of Harmony's clothing were missing. Also, the window in the baby's room was open, and the screen had been removed. It was sitting outside the house.
Police said Heuser's three other children, all under age 5, were in the home overnight Thursday, but they were not harmed. Creech is not the father of those children, authorities said.