The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, along with the Harahan Police Department, is investigating a homicide after a 6-year-old girl was found dead in a bucket Thursday morning.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said the child, a kindergarten student at St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic School in River Ridge, was reported missing by her biological father. The father also reported his girlfriend missing to Harahan police around 7:30 a.m.
Surveillance Footage Captured Girlfriend Wheeling Wagon Carrying Bucket to Mother's Lawn
According to Lopinto, the father woke up at his home on Sedgefield Drive when he could only find his oldest child in the home. The oldest child was unharmed. His daughter, Bella Fontenelle, and his girlfriend, who went by Hannah Landon or Bunnak Lim, were missing. Police then responded to the biological mother's home on Donelon Drive.
That is where Lopinto said Harahan officers found Fontenelle's body in a 10-gallon bucket on the front lawn of the biological mother's home. Surveillance video, obtained by WGNO-TV, from neighboring homes showed Ladon wheeling a wagon carrying a 10-gallon bucket to the biological mother's home one block away.
Child's Death Classified as Homicide
A search was then launched for Landon. She was found at an area hospital where she was arrested and faces a first-degree murder charge. Lopinto said detectives believe Fontenelle was killed at the father's home. Neither of the biological parents is believed to be involved.
An autopsy was conducted on Fontenelle Wednesday afternoon, and her death has been classified as a homicide. The cause of death has not been released at this time but the Jefferson Parish coroner determined the girl's body exhibited "multiple injuries" that would be detailed at a later date.
Officials say the victim's father and Landon had spent "several years together." A motive behind the murder is not yet known.
Fontenelle's School Will Remain Closed to Mourn Tragedy
St. Matthew the Apostle administrators announced the school would close Thursday and Friday in response to the tragedy.
A school email sent to parents said in part, "It is with heavy hearts and great sorrow that we write to you. We have been informed by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office that a kindergarten student here at St. Matthew the Apostle was found dead today. ... This is indeed a horrific tragedy that will impact our school and parish community... We have notified our faculty of today's events but have not shared anything with the students. We delayed this notification in an effort to shield our kids from this tragic news. We feel it is best for them to be with you when the news reaches them."