Isabella Tennant, known as "Bella," spent Sunday at her great-grandmother's home in Niagara Falls, New York. The great-grandmother went to bed around 10:30 p.m. and left Bella with 16-year-old John Freeman. Freeman, who lived nearby, was described as a trusted family friend who did chores for the elderly woman and who was often alone with the little girl.
Around 6 a.m. Monday, Bella's mother, who just finished work at a sports bar, came to pick her daughter up. It was then Bella was found to be missing and police were called about 20 minutes later. Freeman, the last person known to have seen her, was questioned but denied harming the little girl who was supposed to start kindergarten in a couple of weeks. Freeman was initially taken to the police station and held as a person of interest.
Later that morning, while police were conducting a massive search, Tyler Best, 18, walked into police headquarters. He then led officers to where Bella's remains were discovered.
Captain William Thomson, of the Niagara Falls Police Department, was quoted in the Niagara Gazette
as saying, "It's a terrible crime, it tears at your heart. I have grandchildren that are the age of the victim."
According to Thomson, Bella's fully clothed body was found in a garbage bag underneath other bags of trash in a can located in a downtown alley. There were obvious signs of trauma but no immediate indication that the little girl had been sexually assaulted. As well, there was no indication a weapon had been used.
reports the young girl's family members as saying Freeman confessed to the killing after learning of Best's involvement with the police.
Freeman faces a charge of second-degree murder. Best, who had been staying at Freeman's home, is not accused of taking part in the killing but it is alleged he helped remove Bella's body from her great-grandmother's home after she was murdered. Both teens have been charged as adults.
Regarding Best's role, Thomson is quoted in the Buffalo News
as saying, "It would have been very difficult to find her without him. He let us know what he knew. Apparently [he] just assisted after."
Freeman and Best are scheduled to be formally arraigned this morning. An autopsy for Bella is also scheduled for today.