In honor of Black History Month I’m profiling one African-American MP every day on this blog for the month of February. Today’s case is Ta’Niyah Monique Leonard, an eleven-month old baby who disappeared from Bartow, Florida on October 19, 2002.
Sadly it’s not likely that Ta’Niyah is alive today. The police have two main suspects: her parents, Michael Lewis and Miranda Jones. The couple often had violent arguments, sometimes involving weapons. The cops think one or both of Ta’Niyah’s parents was responsible for her death.
This is a problem in terms of the prosecution, as I note in her casefile, since the parents are blaming each other:
Investigators believe either Lewis or Jones is responsible for Ta’Niyah’s disappearance and probable death, but they cannot proceed with charges against either of them due to a lack of evidence and due to the two suspects’ conflicting stories. Prosecutors offered both of them immunity from any charges if they would return Ta’Niyah alive, but neither Lewis nor Jones accepted the offer.
This love-hate relationship between Lewis and Jones continued after Ta’Niyah’s disappearance. Even as they both blamed each other, they conceived another child, a girl, who was immediately taken away after birth and adopted. Last I heard, in 2006, Jones had had a son (not by Lewis; the father might have been this guy) and she was about to lose her parental rights towards this baby as well.
I don’t know what Ta’Niyah’s parents have been up to since 2006; with surnames like “Lewis” and “Jones” it’s hard to trace their movements. If Ta’Niyah is alive, she’d be 17 now.