No Bond: Mother accused of killing, burying toddler

SANFORD, Fla. — A mother accused of killing and burying her 2-year-old daughter is being held on no bond after a judge found probable cause on all counts.

Rachel Fryer is charged with with homicide in the death of Tariji Gordon. She also faces charges of aggravated child abuse, evidence destruction and the mishandling of a dead human body/remains.

Fryer's attorney, Jeff Dowdy, said at her court appearance that the case is a tragedy and that Fryer was "frightened and tearful" when speaking with him.

Her arraignment has been scheduled for April 1 at 1:30 p.m.

According to the arrest report, the medical examiner said Tariji died from blunt force trauma to the head, which caused a large bleed on the right side of the toddler's brain. The medical examiner ruled the death was a homicide.

"The child victim presented multiple injuries in various stages of healing," the report said. Some of the injuries included bite marks that law enforcement officials said have been linked to Fryer.

The night before Tariji's death, Fryer's boyfriend, Timothy Gordon, Jr., told deputies he witnessed Fryer spank and push the child. He also told deputies he woke up to find Tariji's hands "ace bandaged" together over her head, the report said.

Fryer said she then placed Tariji in a suitcase and took her to Putnam County to bury her, police said. The child was found in a shallow grave in Putnam County.

DCF said during that visit one of its agents "physically checked all the children." He said he "saw (Tariji) snoring and observed her open her eyes."

Fryer was in jail on charges of neglect when deputies arrested her on the additional charges Wednesday.

The criminal investigations into the deaths of Tariji and Tavontae Gordon are ongoing, police said.

Police began investigating the 2011 death of Fryer's other child, Tavontae Gordon, after Tariji's death.

"We are actively reviewing the case, are actively investigating," said Sanford Police Department Spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly. "We have new information we didn't have in 2011 that has prompted us to give the case a second look."

At the time the 2-month-old died, Florida Department of Children and Families officials began the process of terminating Fryer's parental rights. The medical examiner ruled Tavontae died in the night of accidental asphyxiation, but the Seminole County Sheriff's Office Child Protections report raises serious questions about how the infant was being cared for up until his death.

According to the report, Tavontae was diagnosed with a heart condition and needed an apnea monitor. The night the boy died, his aunt told investigators Tavontae was not on his monitor. Even more troubling, the report notes, the boy's apnea monitor was finally located in the garage.

"We need to make sure justice is served for this child, to make sure this was in fact an accident," Cordingly said.

More than 40 officials from multiple agencies launched a review of Fryer and her children following the announcement of Tariji's death.

The Florida Department of Children and Families "has determined that Tariji Gordon died as a result of abuse or neglect, therefore her records are subject to release," according to DCF spokeswoman Carrie Proudfit.

DCF serves as the custodian of the child's records, which it will eventually release.


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