A five-year-old girl in Georgia who was found buried in a cement suitcase that had been thrown from a bridge more than three decades ago has been identified, leading to the arrest of her mother and the boyfriend she was living with at the time. Evelyn Odom, also known as Zmecca Luciana, and Ulyster Sanders were taken into custody last week and charged with murder in the 1988 killing of young Kenyatta Odom, known for decades as “Baby Jane Doe,” authorities announced.
In addition to the murder charge, authorities charged the duo with one count each of first-degree child abuse, aggravated assault (family violence), conspiracy to commit murder and concealing the death of another.
Road workers in Millwood, Georgia, discovered Kenyatta’s remains at an illegal dump on Duncan Mill Road on December 21, 1988. The child was found “in an old television cabinet, wrapped in a blanket, in a duffel bag, in a suitcase encased in concrete,” said Jason Seacrist, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). during a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“This was a landfill,” Seacrist said as he revealed a photo of the crime scene. “There’s an old desk, there’s other trash that was just thrown where they threw that kid.”
The coroner determined that the child’s death was a homicide and that he was likely killed at least three months before his body was discovered. In the early years, investigators made many attempts to identify the “Baby Jane Doe,” but the case was eventually closed.
Investigators returned to the case in 2019 and submitted the victim’s DNA for genome sequencing, hoping new technologies would lead to a break in the case. DNA analysis results in 2022 confirmed a familial connection between the victim and a family in Albany, Georgia, Seacrist said. Investigators then began comparing Baby Jane Doe’s DNA with that of family members.
The GBI also issued a press release on December 21, 2022 – the anniversary of the discovery of Baby Jane’s body – asking the public for help in identifying the victim. In January 2023, a tipster contacted the GBI with information about a little girl who had gone missing at the time. The tipster said the girl’s mother – later identified as Odom – told others that her daughter had moved in with her father. The tipster told investigators they never believed the story about the child’s whereabouts.
That tip led investigators back to Odom and Sanders, who were both arrested without incident on Nov. 9, authorities said.
“Finally, after nearly 35 years, we have been able to not only identify her remains, but also arrest those responsible for her death,” Seacrist said during a news conference.
Seacrist also thanked an anonymous donor who offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the victim, now known to be Kenyatta.
Watch the GBI press conference below.
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