ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) - The two year old daughter of a murder victim, who police feared was missing, is safe. In fact, the little girl was never in any danger. But her recovery by police is but a sliver of good news wrapped in tragedy.
The frenetic search for two year old Tiana McNeil began Thursday afternoon, when police were finally able to find next of kin of her mother Tatiana McNeil, 27.
The mother had been found dead in a field off Riverview Drive Tuesday. Her body had been there for about a week, and was decomposed enough that police had to run fingerprints in an autopsy Wednesday to identify her. McNeil was estranged from much of her family, and it was Thursday before police were able to locate any next of kin.
When they found her grandmother and mother, the two women immediately asked about her kids. Cops quickly located her seven year old son, but Tiana was nowhere to be found.
Immediately officers were back in the field where the mother’s body was found, searching for the girl. Meanwhile, they launched a media blitz as well, putting the girl’s picture all over the news.
It took only ninety minutes after her face popped up on TV for a call to come in telling police where Tiana was. She was with a woman a cousin of the victim says is the little girl’s Godmother. Police would only confirm that she is a close friend of the victim, and had no idea that Tatiana McNeil was dead.
“She was visibly shaken,” St. Louis Police Captain Michael Sack said. “She had been in Tatiana’s life for a number of years. They were very close.”
And how was she not worried after not hearing from that close friend for two weeks with her daughter in her care?
“In the past there were situations where Tatiana would drop the child off with the woman and she would watch the child for a couple of weeks at a time,” Sack said. “She might occasionally hear from her and she might not. But she had no concern today about anything having happened to her, so it was just something she'd gotten used to I guess.”
Police say in receiving calls about the girl, they also received tips about the murder investigation. They’re looking for more information, however.
If you have any clues for police there could be a reward in it for you. Contact Crimestoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).
Pictures: Police search the 9200 block of Riverview for the missing toddler with dogs: