Adoptive Mother Arrested in Death of Quadriplegic Child

The adoptive mother of a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose body was found in a plastic bag in a storage unit has been arrested in her death, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The unidentified woman, who is the child's blood relative, was arrested Wednesday after the discovery of Shylea Myza Thomas's body, said Special Assistant Genesee County Prosecutor John Potbury. She faces charges ranging from misdemeanor moving a corpse to felony murder, Potbury said.

Prosecutors were meeting Thursday and the woman's arraignment was expected later in the day.

Authorities on Wednesday found the body of Shylea Myza Thomas in a locked storage unit in Vienna Township, about 65 miles northwest of Detroit. Her body had been put in a plastic garbage bag and stuffed in a storage bin, with mothballs sprinkled over her to mask the smell.

Shylea's adoptive mother, Lorrie Thomas, has been in custody as a suspect since then, but she has not been charged.

Authorities have not said what caused the girl's death. Charges could range from felony murder to lesser charges such as misdemeanor moving a corpse.

County Prosecutor David Leyton said Thursday he did not know whether Thomas had a lawyer.

Seven other children ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years have been removed from Lorrie Thomas' Flint home and placed in foster care.

Shylea had been taken out of school in January, and one neighbor said she hadn't even been aware the little girl lived there.

The case unfolded this week when relatives of the girl told the state Department of Human Services about possible neglect and said they hadn't seen the child in six weeks.

A case worker, Aaron Clum, visited the home Monday and was unable to confirm Shylea's whereabouts, according to a court document filed in the Genesee County Circuit Court's family division. According to Clum, Thomas said the family was moving to Virginia and the girl was on her way with a friend.

On Tuesday, the department asked Flint police to investigate. Thomas again insisted Shylea was bound for Virginia, Clum wrote, but that could not be confirmed.

Shylea's body was found early Wednesday morning hidden in a unit at Stor & Lock in Vienna Township.

Shylea had been paralyzed since nearly suffocating in her crib when she was 3 months old, Leyton said. She lived with several relatives in a Flint home that the prosecutor described as "absolutely filthy."