Investigators searching for Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney—the 3-year-old abducted from a birthday party more than a week ago—found her body in a dumpster Tuesday night, and authorities are charging two people earlier identified as “persons of interest” with murder, Birmingham, Ala., police said.
“Tonight our entire city is mourning,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said, the Tuscaloosa News reports. “Kamille is gone. Ripped away form her family. The pain her family is enduring is unimaginable.”
Kamille went missing Oct. 12 while playing with other children at a party on the grounds of the Birmingham housing development where she lived with her family.
As the search for the preschooler stretched on into its 10th day, Birmingham police and FBI investigators on Tuesday night discovered what were believed to be Kamille’s remains inside a dumpster.
“I wish I had all of you gathered here with good news. I wish I could share a high five or some other type of celebratory salutation but I cannot,’’ Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said at a news conference, AL.com reports.
Two people identified as “persons of interest” shortly after Kamille went missing—39-year-old Patrick Devone Stallworth and his 29-year-old girlfriend, Derick Irisha Brown—will now be charged with capital murder and kidnapping, Smith said.
The day after Kamille went missing, police quickly identified and took into custody Stallworth and Brown when their SUV was said to have matched the description of a vehicle seen near Kamille at the time of her disappearance.
At the time, the pair were not charged with anything related to Kamille’s disappearance. However, they were arrested on other serious charges: Stallworth on unrelated counts of child pornography based on images found on his phone, and Brown on a bond issue related to kidnapping charges she faced regarding her own children, according to AL.com.
Police said none of the images found on Stallworth’s phone appeared to be of Kamille.
With the tragic discovery of Kamille’s remains, police did not reveal what they believed to be the motive in the child’s being abducted and killed. Authorities said there was no evidence that the suspects knew Kamille or her family. However, said Chief Smith:
“I can tell you what we believe at this point. We believe that this was something they thought about and acted upon. They saw an opportunity to take a young child and they did. Our further investigation will reveal whatever happened after that.”
Lawyers for both Stallworth and Brown have declared their clients’ innocence, the Associated Press reports.
The mayor asked the public to show Kamille’s family support—and to hold their own loved ones just a little bit tighter.
“This moment for our city right now is very hard. It is the hardest for April Thomas, Kamille’s mother, Dominic McKinney, Kamille’s father, who have received this information and I know without a doubt are in tears right now,’’ Mayor Woodfin said, AL.com reports. “I ask that we all in solidarity lift Kamille’s entire family up in prayer. A 3-year-old has been snuffed out from her family.”