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LANSING, Mich.–The body of a missing two-year-old girl, who was believed to be abducted by her mother’s violent ex-boyfriend on Sunday, was found Tuesday evening in an alley near a house.
The days-long manhunt to find little Wynter Cole Smith has ended in tragedy after Lansing police and FBI investigators recovered her body, WJBK reported.
“At approximately 6:50 p.m. this evening, the body of Wynter Cole Smith was recovered by FBI agents, this is not the outcome that we were hoping for,” FBI Acting Special Agent Devin Kowalski said during a press conference on Tuesday. “And our hearts go out to Wynter’s family. Based on information developed through this investigation, our teams were searching multiple areas across the state over and over again, and specifically in the area adjacent to where we are standing.”
The suspect, 26-year-old Rashad Trice, had already been arrested following the Sunday kidnapping and stabbing of the child’s mother, but Wynter Cole Smith was not in the car with him, and he refused to cooperate with investigators.
Trice faces charges including criminal sexual conduct, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment, and domestic violence.
Wynter Cole Smith becomes another missing and murdered Black woman
According to investigators, Trice kidnapped the toddler after stabbing her mother. An Amber Alert was issued as he took the child to Detroit. He was arrested shortly after in St. Claire Shores, but his refusal to reveal the location of Wynter Cole Smith prompted her mother to issue a desperate plea to the public for help.
“Please if you have any information to where my missing daughter Wynter is dm me please,” Ajay Smith tweeted on Monday.
Dozens of local volunteers joined the call to search for Wynter Cole Smith, even as Black women and girls are more likely to go missing and less likely to gain news coverage.
Despite representing less than 15 percent of U.S. women, Black women and girls account for over a third of missing women cases in the country, according to the National Crime Information Center.
The alarming trend has sparked action in some states in recent years. Minnesota established a Missing and Murdered African American Women task force in 2021 to report and reduce the number of missing Black women in the state. Meanwhile, the NAACP has called on the federal government to devote more resources to address the issue.
For the family of Wynter Cole Smith, however, the arrest of the suspect pales in comparison to the loss of a toddler still new to the world.
“Our best people are back there to do what is necessary to be as respectful as possible to Wynter and her family. This will be a thorough and deliberate crime scene investigation,” Kowalski said. “It will take time to carefully collect evidence that we need to help bring the person responsible to justice.”