The mother of 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford struck a fatal blow to the child’s head on Sept. 24, 2011, and then concocted a false story about her daughter’s disappearance, according to a criminal complaint released Friday.
Lena Lunsford was arraigned in Lewis County, a day after being transported back to West Virginia from Florida where she was arrested Thursday.
The criminal complaint claims Lunsford struck her daughter in the head with a hand-held object and caused blunt force trauma. It alleges she didn’t give aid to the girl or allow those who saw it happen help.
Investigators allege Lunsford concealed her daughter’s body, destroyed evidence and made up a story about her disappearance.
Lunsford was being held on $250,000 bail.
More than five years after Aliayah Lunsford disappeared from her Bendale home, police arrested and charged her mother in the alleged killing, Lewis County Sheriff Adam Gissy said.
Police arrested Lunsford in Pinellas County, Fla., on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve tried to prepare myself for the last five years, but I’ve always held onto some hope that maybe she would be found alive,” Vickie Bowen, Aliayah’s great aunt, said Thursday night in a phone call with MetroNews. “I thought I was ready to hear what we heard today, and I really wasn’t.”
Aliayah Lunsford disappeared during the early morning hours of Sept. 24, 2011.
Bowen said life has been “a roller coaster of emotions” for what’s left of Aliayah’s family, but that roller coaster was particularly pronounced Thursday.
“It was relief, sadness, a lot of things going through my mind all at one time,” she said. “I’m glad that we finally have some action in the case.”
Gissy said he “wasn’t at liberty” to discuss whether law enforcement had discovered Aliyah’s remains.
“I’ve felt that she’s been gone for a long time,” Bowen said. “I’ve just really felt it in my heart; that she wasn’t with us. She was with the lord.”
“I guess a part of me still held out hope, and I don’t have that hope now. It’s left a big hole in my heart.”
Bowen previously told MetroNews “only Lena Lunsford had the answers” to the child’s whereabouts.
“I pray to God that that’s what they tell us, and we can finally have some closure and make arrangements to lay Aliayah to a peaceful rest.”
Lena Lunsford is scheduled to be extradited to West Virginia within 24 hours, and Gissy said more information will be released at a Friday morning news conference.
She is behind bars on a cash-only bond of $250,000.