Lena Lunsford arrested, charged with death of her daughter, Aliayah

Lena Lunsford, the mother of missing toddler Aliayah Lunsford, has been arrested in Florida and charged with her death.

Extradition proceeding are underway in Pinellas County, Florida, where Lunsford is charged with death of a child by a parent by child abuse.

Receptionists at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Adam M. Gissy would not comment on developments in the case until an 11 a.m. press conference Friday at the Lewis County Courthouse.

“Some developments have been made in the case,” said FBI Supervisory Agent Greg Heeb. “It is not our arrest warrant, though, but we are aware of possible developments in the case.”

Aliayah Lunsford was reported missing from her Dennison Street home in Lewis County at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2011.

She was last seen around 6:30 a.m. that morning, but she was not in her room when her mother checked on her at about 9:30 a.m.

At the time of her disappearance, Aliayah was 3-feet tall, weighing only 30 pounds. She was wearing purple Dora the Explorer pajama bottoms and a pink princess sweatshirt. She had no shoes on, reports at the time indicated.

Shortly after the disappearance, the Lunsford family home was deemed a crime scene, with the FBI bringing in a child abduction expert.

“We are gathering information on specific areas to recover,” FBI Special Agent John Hambrick said on Sept. 28, 2011. “We are using a methodical approach. We are not discussing specifics of the case publicly. We are focusing on the facts and following the investigation.”

Officials also launched a 24-hour-a-day search that included dozens of volunteers from the community, including ones from Bendale United Methodist Church. For days, volunteers scoured the county looking for any possible clue.

In October 2011, the search officially became a criminal investigation, with FBI officials declaring that the agency believed Aliayah had either been killed, abducted or was being concealed.

“Right now the volunteer segment of the command post has been disbanded,” FBI Special Agent Jeff Killeen said at the time. “We are no longer considering this as a walk-off, that being a child leaving the home and wandering off into the woods or into a body of water. That has been ruled out. The chances of anyone surviving in these elements is absolutely remote. At this time we are looking at this matter strictly as a crime.”


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