Mom charged with homicide in death of buried toddler

SANFORD, Fla. —The Sanford Police Department has charged Rachel Fryer with homicide in the death of her buried 2-year-old daughter, Taraji Gordon.

Fryer, 32, was also charged with aggravated child abuse, evidence destruction and the mishandling of a dead human body/remains at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to police.

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, 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" over her head, the report said.

Earlier this month, Fryer told police she placed Tariji in a suitcase and took her to Putnam County to bury her, after the 2-year-old was unresponsive one morning. Taraji was found in a shallow grave in Putnam County.

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 DCF 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 DCF 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 release on Thursday.


New details revealed in 2011 death of Rachel Fryer's infant

Attorney: Mother who buried 2-year-old needs psychiatric evaluation

Mother who buried 2-year-old faces possible new investigation

Child's body found after search in Putnam County


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