Police in New Jersey have identified a child whose skeletal remains were found in 2005 as a New York City girl who was the victim of years of abuse. They also charged three people, including her aunt and uncle, with covering up her death.
A tip received within the last two months enabled authorities to identify the victim in what came to be known as the "Baby Bones" case as 9-year-old Jon-Niece Jones, of Harlem, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Wednesday.
The investigation found that the girl died at the Harlem home of her aunt, Likisha Jones, on Aug. 15, 2002, following years of abuse by the child's mother, Elisha Jones, the prosecutor said.
Authorities allege the mother, the girl's uncle James Jones and the aunt's boyfriend, Godfrey Gibson, disposed of the body in Upper Freehold Township after setting it on fire. Elisha Jones died four months later of natural causes.
"The family members of Jon-Niece Jones turned a blind eye to the constant physical and mental abuse this girl endured for years," said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, which investigated the case with the county prosecutor's office. "Because of the hard work by investigators, these three suspects will now have to answer for their alleged unthinkable actions."
The suspects were arrested Tuesday at their New York City homes, authorities said.
Likisha Jones, 39, of Manhattan; James Jones, 35, of Brooklyn; and Gibson, 48, of Manhattan, were charged with hindering apprehension, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice.
They were being held at the county jail in Freehold pending a hearing Wednesday afternoon in Monmouth County Superior Court. Prosecutors didn't know if they had attorneys.
Officials used DNA to identify the remains, including a skull and jawbone, that were discovered by a hunter in tall grass.
The case got attention in 2009 when detectives appeared on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" to seek help in solving the case.