1. Archive

Father, stepmother indicted in 4-year-old girl's slaying

Ken and Roselene Wilkinson, long considered the lead suspects in the gruesome slaying and dismemberment of 4-year-old Kendia Lockhart, were indicted Wednesday by a Dade County grand jury.

Kendia's father and her stepmother are charged equally under the indictment. Each faces one count of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated child abuse.

"Legally, we felt comfortable charging both of them," said Assistant State Attorney Trudy Novicki, who will be lead prosecutor on the murder case.

The indictment does not reveal which person prosecutors believe killed the girl.

The Wilkinsons are charged under Florida's felony-murder statute, which holds them equally responsible for a murder that took place while they were committing a felony. The felony in this case, if proved, would be aggravated child abuse.

Both Wilkinsons have given statements to police, each blaming the other for the deadly blow that medical examiners have determined caused the girl's death.

Kendia's stepmother, 23-year-old Roselene Wilkinson, first reported the girl missing during a Feb. 14 trip to a Northeast Dade mall. She told police she had gone shopping with the child and her younger sister for a Valentine's Day present for their father, 26-year-old Ken Wilkinson.

But police became suspicious when her story of a possible abduction became increasingly inconsistent. The girl's body was discovered Feb. 18 in a makeshift grave in woods along NW 161st Street, just off Interstate 95.

Kendia's body had been burned and her arms chopped off. Investigators now believe she had been dead for as long as a week before her body was discovered.

Both Wilkinsons also face unrelated child-abuse charges.

Ken Wilkinson is charged with biting the buttocks of Kendia's half-sister, 2-year-old Kayshan, a year earlier. His wife faces child neglect charges for failing to prevent the alleged abuse.

The Wilkinsons have been held in jail since last month on the child-abuse charges.