Uncle arrested in 9-year-old girl's death smelled of bleach, police say

Suspect faces first-degree murder charge

ORLANDO, Fla. – A man arrested in connection with his 9-year-old niece's death earlier this year smelled of bleach when investigators interviewed him after the girl was found, according to the Orlando Police Department.

Police said Bertholet Fify, 55, was arrested Friday, months after Tayanah Jean Paul was found lying on a couch unresponsive at an apartment complex on Millenia Boulevard on Feb. 27

Paul's mother said she came home that day around 9 p.m. and saw the girl on the couch but when she tried to wake her to get her to sleep in her bed, Paul was unresponsive, so she removed the pillow that was on the girl's face and saw that she was foaming from the mouth, according to the affidavit.

A woman who called 911 said the girl was dead and there was foam coming from her nose and mouth.

"She drank bleach, (inaudible) she drank bleach. She drank a lot of bleach," the woman told a 911 operator.

Police said Paul was pronounced dead at an area hospital that night.

Fify and other relatives who had access to the apartment that day were taken to Orlando Police headquarters to be interviewed. Fify was unable to explain why he smelled like bleach or why there were bleach stains on his shoes, according to the report.

Surveillance video also proved that other statements he made were false, the affidavit said.

Police said evidence suggested that the girl was alive when Fify arrived at the apartment and he was the only person with the victim at that time.

On June 3, Paul's death was ruled a homicide. Her cause of death was strangulation, records show.

No other details were immediately available.

Fify was arrested Friday on a first-degree murder charge.

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