More than three decades after police fruitlessly searched a Las Vegas swap meet for a missing 3-year-old, his mother has been charged with murder.
Amy Fleming, 60, was arrested in Florida on Jan. 29 and is being extradited to Nevada to face a charge that she killed her son before setting out for the swap meet with the boy’s stepfather, Lee Luster, on Aug. 2, 1986.
“We believe they were at the swap meet as a diversion and [Francillon Pierre] was already deceased,” an investigator said at a Monday news conference, noting neighbors hadn’t seen the boy for weeks prior to that event, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Eight months earlier, a babysitter had found 30 to 40 welts on Francillon’s neck and back, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Fleming and Luster, who moved to Florida in 1987, were found guilty of felony child abuse and sentenced to probation.
“We definitely believe that child abuse could have played a factor in this homicide,” the investigator said. “At this point, evidence points to [Fleming], but the investigation is ongoing,” an officer added, per the Sun Sentinel.
Fleming initially claimed Francillon vanished while the family was shopping for a bicycle. She later implicated his father, who was cleared as a suspect; he then lived in Haiti.
Police say new witnesses and evidence have emerged since 2017, when officers learned someone tried to apply for a fraudulent birth certificate in Francillon’s name. KTNV describes an “attempt at identity theft from overseas.”
Officers also reference torn-up letters sent between Fleming and Luster while they were jailed. In one, Fleming allegedly wrote, “What happened was totally unintentional, I’m sorry.”
Police haven’t said how they believe Francillon died; no body was ever found.
(Read more murder stories.)