An Illinois man has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of Ja’nya Murphy, one day after the body of her missing 1-year-old daughter was found floating in a retention pond.
Murphy, 21, had been found dead, apparently strangled to death, in her apartment in Wheeling, Illinois, on Tuesday. Her daughter, Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs, was missing from the apartment, prompting a search that extended into Indiana and Missouri.
On Friday, Ahmeel Fowler, 26, was charged with first-degree murder in Murphy’s death, ABC 7 reported. Authorities had identified Fowler as a person of interest early in the case and he been seen at a mall with the mother and toddler on Monday.
As of Saturday morning, Fowler had not been charged in the death of 1-year-old Angel, and a cause of death for the child had not been announced. Construction workers found the girl’s body on Thursday near the city of Hammond, Indiana, People magazine reported. The pond, located near the interstate, was 4 to 5 feet deep after recent rainfall.
Fowler was not Angel’s father and didn’t live with the two of them, Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Al Steffen told the Daily Herald. Fowler and Murphy had previously dated and had what Steffen described as a troubled relationship.
Murphy “by all accounts, was a great mom” and had a supportive family, Steffen told CBS 2. Family members had initially contacted police on Tuesday after Murphy didn’t show up to work and no one was able to contact her.