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Autopsy 'inconclusive' on body believed to be missing Bradenton 11-year-old Janiya Thomas; DCF issues report on case

BRADENTON -- The autopsy was inconclusive Wednesday on the body found in a freezer Sunday believed to be that of missing 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, said Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

The chief confirmed the autopsy was underway and he was awaiting a call from homicide detectives with results.

"More medical testing is needed to determine the cause of death and for positive ID," Radzilowski told the Bradenton Herald just after 4 p.m. Wednesday.

New details surfaced in the investigation surrounding Janiya when the Florida Department of Children and Families released a critical incident report Wednesday afternoon.

The report describes how Thomas became uncooperative during a DCF home visit in June 2014 during which Janiya was last seen by DCF officials and how the case was then closed as "non-compliant."

The report says the agency had 12 prior reports involving Thomas between 2004 and 2015.

Thomas and how she cares for her five children drew attention Friday when she was brought before a judge after she refused to tell Janiya's whereabouts to investigators with the Manatee County Sheriff Office's Child Protective Investigations Division, which investigates child welfare cases in the county.

Investigators went to the Thomas home in the Village at Cortez Apartments, 4880 51st St. W., Bradenton, to remove all five of her children as part of a child-abuse case involving Thomas' 12-year-old son.

Thomas was held in contempt of court at the Manatee County jail without bond after she refused to tell Circuit Judge Scott Brownell anything about Janiya's whereabouts.

Several hours later, CPI investigators reported Janiya missing to the Bradenton Police Department.

On Saturday, investigators interviewed three of Thomas' children -- ages 15, 12 and 9. One child said it had been more than a year since they had seen Janiya, who Thomas reportedly beat and locked in the bathroom for days at a time.

Thomas was charged with aggravated child abuse based on what investigators learned about how Janiya was treated.

On Sunday night, law enforcement was called to the home of a family member who had discovered a body believed to be Janiya inside a freezer. Keishanna Thomas and a man, who police have yet to identify, brought the freezer to the home Oct. 14.

Thomas and a boyfriend delivered the freezer under the guise she was facing eviction, according to the DCF incident report.

On Monday, DCF announced it would send a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to review the presumed death case since there had been a verified report and involvement between CPI and the family in the 12 months prior to the discovery of the body.

Janiya was last seen by a CPI investigator June 9, 2014, during a case management home visit during which her mother reportedly became uncooperative. Case management and Children's Legal Services recommended the case be closed as "non-compliant" with the understanding court action would be appropriate if another complaint were received.

"By the time the last report was received in September 2015, Janiya had already been missing for approximately a year or so, according to the child's siblings and extended relatives, however, no one ever alerted the authorities," the incident report states.

The September report was received as a result of an incident involving Thomas' 12-year-old son, for which she was charged last week with child abuse.

In addition to confirming the boy had been abused, other children in the home revealed during the investigation there had been domestic violence between Thomas and her boyfriend.

Detectives now believe Thomas had two different boyfriends during the time in question, according Radzilowski.

"She may have had a boyfriend previously and then there is a boyfriend as of about three months ago," Radzilowski said. "So detectives are trying to sort it out and determine who knew what, when did they know it and what did they do about it."

Detectives are in contact with at least one of the men, he said. One is local and the other is in Georgia, detectives told Radzilowski.

Thomas remains in custody at the Manatee County jail without bond. She is charged with contempt of court, aggravated child abuse and child abuse.

Thomas is expected to return to court on the contempt charge Thursday morning.

Anyone with any information regarding this case can call Bradenton police detective James Curulla at 941-747-3011, Ext. 2224, or remain anonymous eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 by calling Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 or send an anonymous e-tip to manateecrimestoppers.com.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can be followed at her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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