Child's body found after search in Putnam County

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — A 2-year-old Sanford girl was found buried in a shallow grave in Putnam County Tuesday morning, police announced.

Investigators from the Sanford Police Department, along with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were following up on leads on the disappearance of Tariji Gordon after the child's mother, Rachel Fryer, 32, turned herself in Monday.

Fryer, Rachel Fryer told police that around 9 a.m. on Feb. 6 she found Tariji unresponsive and attempted to wake her, according to the arrest warrant.

"The child victim took a deep breath and exhaled, but showed no other signs of life," the police report said.

Fryer told police she attempted to revive the child using CPR and Tariji's breathing treatments for the child's asthma. The mother told police she thought the child then took another breath, but then stopped breathing, the report said.

Fryer told police she attempted to revive Tariji for 30 minutes before giving up and wrapping the toddler in a black blanket. Fryer did not call police or 911.

Around 3 p.m. Fryer allegedly put Tariji in a leopard-print suitcase and asked a friend to drive her to Crescent City, Fla., according to the police report.

Fryer allegedly dug a shallow grave in the yard of the home at 117 Madison Ave. and buried Tariji in it, according to the report. She told police she covered the grave with dirt, plywood and a sheet of tin.

Fryer then slept on the attached porch at the home. Her friend, only identified as Tonya, picked her up the next morning and drove the mother back to Sanford.

On Monday morning Fryer turned herself into police and told authorities where they could find Tariji. Police found Tariji buried in a shallow grave at the address Fryer gave them. The shoes she was wearing matched shoes the toddler had previously worn, police said.

Nearby, police found a suitcase they believe was used to transport the girl to the grave.

Gordon's body will be taken to St. John's County for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Fryer has been charged with aggravated child neglect and is being held at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility on a no bond hold. Authorities originally said Fryer was charged with aggravated child abuse.

Fryer has been arrested several times, including for resisting arrest, battery of a law enforcement officer, petty theft and possession of marijuana.

Court records show she was sentenced to six months in jail for violation of probation in 2012. In December, Fryer was arrested in Seminole County after a warrant was issued for failing to appear in court.

She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon on charges of aggravated child neglect.

Fryer's three other children were removed from the family's home in the 1300 block of Oleander Avenue Monday. Police initially launched the criminal investigation after the family's Florida Department of Children and Families case manager expressed concern about one of the children.

DCF investigators said the children had been in foster care until November, when they were reunited with their birth mother. Fryer's three other children have been placed back into foster care.


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