A Tampa woman has been charged with murder after police say she drowned her 4-year-old daughter in a river, WTSP-TV (Tampa) is reporting.
Shakayla Denson, 26, allegedly stole a vehicle from an auto-repair shop, then drove to the nearby Hillsborough River and, carrying 4-year-old Je’Hyrah Daniels, waded about 75 feet into the river. Police say she then dropped her daughter in the water and walked away.
At about 4:06 p.m., police began getting calls about a child in the river, according to WFTS-TV (Tampa Bay). A dive team was dispatched, and by 4:30 p.m., they had pulled the body of the little girl out of the water. She was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
It didn’t take long for police to find and apprehend Denson, as authorities say she was walking nearby while the search and rescue operation was underway.
Neighbor Vicki Walker witnessed the whole thing from the balcony of her condo. She said that by the time she realized what was going on, it was too late.
“It’s really sad. I don’t know the circumstances, I don’t know what’s going on in their lives, but it’s killing me.”
Neighbor Romano Muniz also watched the scene unfold, according to Bay News 9.
“Eventually, we just saw the scuba divers out there pulling up with a body. Then everybody going full attack mode to make sure she got in the ambulance and then taken to [the hospital].”
Witnesses say Shakayla Denson waded into the Hillsborough River with her 4-year-old daughter. Roughly halfway across the river, she tossed the child and began wading out, police say.
— ABC Action News (@abcactionnews) August 3, 2018
Neighbor Victor DiMaio said that it was easy for police to find their suspect.
“As the lady came back and came onshore, she tried to walk down our street here, and some other neighbor called the police, called 911, and the police were able to apprehend her before she got far.”
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, calling this crime a “completely tragic event,” said that authorities are short on answers right now when it comes to a possible motive.
“Unfortunately at this point, there are a lot more questions than answers. It’s a crazy world we live in.”
Denson has a rap sheet filled with minor crimes, including arrests for driving with a suspended license, and theft charges dating back two years.
She has been taken to jail and held without bond, charged with first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and grand theft auto charges.
This is not the first time someone has allegedly drowned a child in a Tampa-area river. In January 2015, as WTSP reported at the time, Jon Jonchuck Jr., allegedly threw his five-year-old daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck, off a bridge into a river 62 feet below.