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4-year-old girl dies after woman throws her in Florida river, police say

Woman believed to be child's mother is in custody

TAMPA, Fla. – A woman accused of throwing her 4-year-old daughter into a Florida river to drown has been denied bail on first-degree murder charges.

News outlets report 26-year-old Shakayla Denson was denied bail Friday during her first court appearance.

Tampa police say Denson drove Je'Hyrah Daniels in a stolen car Thursday to the Hillsborough River, waded in with the girl, tossed her into the water, and walked away.

Authorities found the unconscious girl 30 minutes later. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Police found Denson walking nearby and arrested her. She is also charged with child abuse and auto theft.

In 2015, police say a man threw his 5-year-old daughter to her death off the Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg. John Jonchuck Jr. is set for trial next month.

TIMELINE

  • 3:09 p.m. -- Police say Shakayla Denson steals 2007 Nissan Altima from a car lot at 5604 N 40th St.
  • According to police, witnesses say they observed her forcefully pushing a child into the backseat of the car. One witness attempted to intervene and was slightly struck by the car, police said. That person was not injured.
  • 4 p.m. -- A witness said they saw Shakayla Denson exiting the Nissan Altima near the intersection of N Rome Avenue and W Aileen Street, according to police.
  • Witnesses observed her forcefully remove a child from the backseat, dragging the child by the arm, headed toward the Hillsborough River, police said. Witnesses reported that the child, later identified as Denson's 4-year-old daughter, Je'Hyrah Daniels, was screaming, police said. At one time, both the child and the mother were screaming, according to officials.
  • Witnesses say Denson grabbed Je'Hyrah with both arms and pulled her close to her chest as the mother waded deeper into the water, according to authorities.
  • The water was near the top of the Denson's shoulders when she released Je'Hyrah into the water, police said. Shakayla Denson then turned around and headed back to the shore, officials said.
  • 4:16 p.m. -- Shakayla Denson walked southbound along Rome. She was detained by TPD officers near 2301 N Oregon Avenue. TPD officers searched the river. Dive team begins a search.
  • 4:30 p.m. --- TPD dive team locates the unconscious child. Je'Hyrah is delivered to Tampa Fire Rescue and rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital.
  • 4:49 p.m. -- Je'Hyrah Daniels is declared deceased.
  • 5:50 p.m. -- Witnesses positively identify Shakayla Denson as the woman who dragged the child into the Hillsborough River, officials said.
  • 10:30 p.m. -- Shakayla Denson is charged with first-degree felony murder, aggravated child abuse and grand theft auto.
     

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