Local News

Death penalty sought against mother in toddler's death

Posted November 11, 2009 6:34 p.m. EST
Updated May 13, 2010 11:20 a.m. EDT

— Harnett County prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against the mother of an 11-month-old girl whose remains were were found in the attic of a Spring Lake home two years ago.

Johni Michelle Heuser, 27, of 1680 Ray Road, was indicted in September on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Harmony Jade Creech.

Deputies found the toddler's remains in her mother's attic on Oct. 20, 2007. The indictment states the child was killed between Aug. 31, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2007.

The child had been wrapped in a plastic bag and stuffed in an empty diaper box in a corner of the attic, authorities said. The body was so badly decomposed that medical examiners have never been able to determine a cause of death.

Prosecutors said they believe the child starved to death, based on the findings of a forensic anthropologist at North Carolina State University who examined the toddler's bones.

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 initially 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.