A babysitter has been charged with murder in connection with the presumed death of a missing North Philadelphia toddler whose body has not yet been found.
King Hill, who was set to turn 3 years old later this month, was reported missing in early July by his stepfather, who told police he had left King with 24-year-old Tianna Parks two weeks earlier.
Authorities said Monday that all information, including phone records and video evidence, points to Parks as the person responsible for King’s disappearance. Police said they are sure he is dead, though they declined to give specifics.
“Every senseless loss of life is tragic, but the loss of our most innocent and vulnerable is especially devastating, and the circumstances surrounding the loss of King Hill has left the entire community shaken,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Investigators said they still do not know when, where or how King was killed. Authorities did not talk about why Parks might have killed King.
Parks, of Wynnefield, was arrested early Monday morning after being hospitalized and was charged with murder, child endangerment, abuse of corpse, false reports to law enforcement, obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence and other crimes.
Police did not say why Parks required medical attention. She is being held without bail, and court documents do not show her attorney.
Officials said they have no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the King’s death.
King’s stepfather, Marvin Reese, went to the 24th Police District station July 8 to report King’s disappearance, Homicide Capt. James Smith said. Detectives now believe it was already too late.
“We know without a doubt that King Hill was deceased before the police were even notified,” Lt. Harold Lloyd, of the Special Victims Unit, said.
Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said the last confirmed sighting of King occurred July 5.
Reese told authorities that he had spoken to Parks, who had told him she returned King to his mother, Amber Miller, on July 7, Smith said.
“According to Mr. Reese, he has known Tianna Parks for several years and Parks oftentimes assists him in caring for the child,” Smith said.
Parks told Reese that Miller was with a man who was holding a gun in the area of 31st Street and Montgomery Avenue in Strawberry Mansion, according to investigators.
Anthony Voci, chief of the homicide unit of the District Attorney’s Office, said “virtually everything” Parks told police was later disproved by evidence.
“The defendant did everything in her power to prevent today from happening,” Voci said.
“She just kept trying to deceive our investigators and lead us in a different direction,” Smith said. “All those inconsistencies in her statement, it all added up to her being culpable.”
After King was reported missing, community members led searches in Strawberry Mansion. At one point, more than 100 officers from various agencies were assigned to the case, Lloyd said.
The FBI got involved, including its Quantico-based behavioral science unit, which helped guide interviews. Lloyd said federal agents brought technological skills that helped lead to an eventual arrest.
“The entire city was hoping for a much different outcome in this investigation,” said Michael Driscoll, special agent in charge of the bureau’s Philadelphia office.
Authorities said they are “extremely confident” in Parks’s guilt, but investigators will continue to look for additional details.
“This precious baby’s family and community deserve to know how he died,” DA Larry Krasner said in a statement. “They deserve the opportunity to bury and mourn him with dignity.”