Harlee Lane Lewis had been dead for six hours when her mother called 911 to report her kidnapping.
As WBTV News reports, deputies in Chesterfield County, South Carolina doubted Breanna Lewis’ abduction story almost immediately. But they issued an AMBER Alert for 11-month-old Harlee anyway, hoping they would find the missing baby.Screenshot/WSOC
On Tuesday at about 2 pm, 19-year-old Breanna called 911 to report that her daughter Harlee had been kidnapped. She claimed she had been walking to the mailbox and holding her baby when a man in a gold and tan SUV pulled up and grabbed Harlee from her.
Breanna had bruising around her eyes, and she told investigators that the kidnapper had punched her several times before driving off with her child.
However, Maj. Briana Davis of County Sheriff’s Office thought Breanna’s story was fishy. Davis told WSOC-TV:
“After 22 years of doing this job, certain things just didn’t add up.”
Authorities issued an AMBER Alert based on Breanna’s description of the kidnapping. But in the meantime, Davis and another deputy had their eyes on a path leading away from the teen’s home. Davis told WSOC that her instincts were warning her to prepare for the worst:
“I was already in the mindset of, ‘That baby is here somewhere, and it’s not going to be good.'”
Sadly, Davis’ instincts were right. About 1,000 yards from Breanna’s home, deputies found Harlee’s body wrapped in a plastic bag and hidden in a diaper box. Davis said the little girl looked like she was asleep.
Initial tests determined that Harlee had died between 8 and 8:30 a.m. that morning — about six hours before Breanna called 911 with the kidnapping story. Breanna’s injuries were not from the abductor, but from a car accident several days earlier.
The cause of Harlee’s death has not been released. Under questioning, her mother would only tell police that her baby “pushed her to the limit” and was difficult to handle. Sheriff Jay Brooks told WSOC:
“She became real fuzzy, to the point that she said she blacked out and had no recollection of what may have happened to the child.”
Brooks added that Harlee’s father killed himself while holding his baby in his arms last autumn.
Breanna has no criminal record. So far, she has been charged with filling a false police report and improper disposal of human remains.
Brooks told WSOC that we need to “get better at protecting our children,” adding that the deputies who found Harlee will get counseling:
“In a case like this, a police officer who sees a dead child never forgets that face — and can never go to sleep at night without seeing that face. And when you’re as old as I am, it makes sleeping a challenge.”