Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Reward offered to help solve 9-year-old Tampa girl's death

TAMPA — The woman last known to have been with a 9-year-old Tampa girl who was found dead in Tampa Bay over the weekend underwent a mental health evaluation two years ago after telling witnesses "Satan is trapping her mind."

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies were called to an east Tampa gas station in January 2012, where Eboni Wiley was reportedly hallucinating. She was transported to a treatment center, according to a Sheriff's Office report, which goes into little other detail.

Wiley, 23, whom investigators have described as a family friend, picked up Felecia Nicole Williams on Friday afternoon from her home north of Ybor City. Authorities say Wiley took Felecia to Doral Oaks Apartments in Temple Terrace and later told police that, while she was taking a shower, the girl vanished from the apartment.

A fisherman on Saturday afternoon found Felecia's body, naked and floating near rocks and mangroves, north of the Courtney Campbell Causeway on the Clearwater side.

Wiley was arrested late Saturday, accused of making false statements to authorities during the investigation. Temple Terrace police, who are leading the investigation, have declined to describe the false information other than to say it initially caused them not to treat the case with the urgency it required.

She was later released from jail on $2,000 bail.

Wiley's mother said Monday that her daughter was undergoing a new round of questioning by detectives. She said Wiley had met Felecia in the recent past when the girl's mother and siblings moved into their east Tampa neighborhood.

"I know that my daughter would not hurt anybody or anybody's child," said Sabrina Teel, Wiley's mother. "This particular one really loved my daughter. She clung to us."

As detectives continued to investigate, a reward of up to $3,000 was offered Monday for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. The multi-jurisdictional investigation prompted the reward offer from Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay.

Teel said her daughter works as a housekeeper at Whispering Oaks nursing home, about a block from the home. Teel declined to speak about what she thinks may have happened to the girl, saying only that multiple stories had been told to police. She said she believed police would find the person responsible.

"My daughter is innocent," Teel said. "I just don't want to say what is what until they get to the bottom of it. They know my baby did not do that. … Eventually all this stuff is going to prevail and that's what we're waiting on. It's going to come to a head."

Meanwhile, their hearts were breaking, Teel said.

"We all are hurting," she said.

Details of the investigation, including a ruling on Felecia's official cause of death or whether police have a suspect, remained scant Monday. Temple Terrace police Chief Ken Albano said in a news release that his department "is working diligently" on the case.

Authorities have said no immediate family members are considered suspects, and police do not think there is an ongoing threat to other children.

A police presence was noticeable Monday outside Edison Elementary School, where Felecia had attended third grade. Parents walked hand in hand with their backpack-toting children past a gathering of TV news cameras, and grief counselors addressed Felecia's classroom.

Felecia was a kind, sweet little girl, said Leslie Charles-House, who knew the family from church.

"Everyone called her 'Sugarplum,' " Charles-House said. The last time she saw the little girl was about two months ago, she said. "She was the real trusting type. She was out by herself and said she was waiting for a friend. I told her she needed to go home.

"It shocked me," Charles-House said of the girl's death. "I'm just praying for the family."

Times news researcher John Martin and Aimee Alexander contributed to this report.

 
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