A Florida woman who killed and stuffed her daughter in a freezer received 65 years in prison on Wednesday, officials confirm.
The Sun Sentinel reports that in 2015, Keishanna Thomas, 33, stuffed her 11-year-old daughter, Janiya Thomas, inside a freezer, then sent it to Bradenton, where a family member lives. She told her family members she was being evicted and needed a place to store the appliance.
According to court documents, Janiya was last seen in 2014. State social workers were accused of failing to follow up after complaints of child abuse. Thomas starved, strangled, and drowned her daughter before putting her into the freezer.
Police arrested Thomas in October 2015 after a welfare call about the child, and she refused to say where her daughter was. She was held in contempt of court. Around the same time, family members broke the padlocked freezer open after they heard Janiya was missing and found her lifeless body inside.
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Prosecutors decided against seeking the death penalty for Thomas, although the never fully explained why.
“Due to the facts and circumstances of the case, we decided not to seek the death penalty,” Manatee County assistant state attorney, Art Brown, said.
According to investigators, Thomas didn’t like her child because of an incontinence issue. She locked the little girl inside a bathroom with no food or clothes for weeks at a time, thinking it would solve the problem. According to Janiya’s siblings, Thomas would often beat the girl mercilessly and dunk her into a bathtub full of bleach. On at least one occasion, she beat Janiya with a telephone cord.
In 2014, Child Protective Services visited the home after neighbors reported seeing Janiya, dirty with matted down hair, rummaging through trash cans in search of food. Thomas told the state social workers that the neighbors must have spotted her niece who was visiting at the time.
Further, Thomas never told her boyfriend about Janiya and claimed she only had four children. When he visited her in 2014, he noticed the freezer plugged in and sitting in the living room area. He told authorities he never once saw Thomas open the appliance.
Thomas pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and abuse of a dead body.
[Feature Photo: Manatee County Sheriff’s Office]