Sanford mom charged in murder of toddler daughter - FOX 35 News Orlando

Sanford mom charged in murder of toddler daughter

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A Sanford mother has been formally charged with murder in the death of her two-year-old daughter.

Rachel Fryer, 32, remains incarcerated at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility following her arrest earlier this month on a charge of aggravated child neglect.  

The Sanford Police Department on Wednesday said they had cause to bring additional charges against Fryer, including murder, aggravated child abuse, destruction of evidence, and the mishandling of a dead human body.

Investigators said Fryer never reported her daughter, Tariji Gordon, missing.  The child's body was later recovered from a shallow grave in Putnam County.

Based on a report by the Seminole County Medical Examiner, investigators said Fryer killed her daughter by using blunt force trauma to the child's head. The toddler also had bite marks linked to Fryer.

"When the additional charges were brought in today, she made no comment," said Shannon Cordingly with the Sanford Police Department.

Fryer told investigators that she found her daughter unresponsive on the morning of Thursday, February 6.  She said she attempted to revive her daughter but was unsuccessful.  According to an arrest affidavit, Fryer placed her daughter's fully dressed body in a suitcase, then went to Putnam County to bury the child.

According to the arrest affidavit, the toddler's father, Timothy Gordon, stayed with Fryer on February 5.  The report states that he saw Fryer spank the girl after she soiled her pants and made the child hold her hands in the air for an hour.   After several hours later, Gordon said he saw the toddler with her arms bandaged to her head, still standing against the wall.  The following day, Gordon told police that he saw Fryer push the toddler to the floor.

"Originally, we received a call asking for assistance in a welfare check. When the child was not at the home, the investigation quickly escalated from there," Cordingly said.

Investigators said Fryer had the ability to call 911 for help, but failed to do so, causing the toddler to die.

These new charges come a week after the police department released details surrounding the 2011 death of Tavont'ae Gordon.  Tavont'ae was the twin brother of Tariji.  At the time, his death was ruled an accident, due to asphyxiation; however, investigators said new information has given them cause to re-open and investigate that case.

"Both cases are still ongoing," said Cordingly. "We're not sure if there's anything more to this case, but we feel it's worth a second look to make sure, digging a little deeper to see if there's something that wasn't seen the first time by a medical examiner."

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families said that following Tavont'ae's death, Fryer's four children were placed into foster care, because investigators had concerns that Fryer had substance abuse issues.  The four children were given back to Fryer this past November. 

Fryer's three children are now back in the foster care system.  Fryer is also pregnant with her sixth child.

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