Investigators identify toddler whose remains were in Camden alley
CAMDEN - Authorities have identified a toddler whose bones were found in a trash-strewn alley here almost three months ago.
Now they're looking for people with information about the boy, 20-month-old Jah'vi Brown.
"We'd like the public to help us," Bill Townsend, chief of detectives for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said at a news conference Friday.
"It is a very suspicious death," he said.
The child's remains, found Oct. 11 by someone walking through an alley off the 800 block of Mount Ephraim Avenue, were identified "very recently" through DNA testing, Townsend said.
"It's still a very active investigation that involves several different agencies," Townsend said.
He said investigators got a break in the case on Dec. 6 when the boy's father, 25-year-old Anthony Burnett of Camden, went to Bellmawr police about a custody issue.
The child's mother, 23-year-old Tynaizha Brown, is a Bellmawr resident, according to Townsend.
Investigators obtained a sample of the child's DNA from the father, said Townsend, who noted neither parent had previously reported Jah'vi to be missing.
He said the parents have been questioned by investigators "and one has retained an attorney."
"I do want to reassure the public that there is no information up to this point that this was any kind of stranger abduction," Townsend said.
"We have confirmed through another state agency that the child was seen alive on Aug. 20 in Bellmawr," Townsend said. He did not identify the agency,
The boy's skeletal remains were believed to have been in the grassy alley, close to an abandoned house, for at least two weeks, according to the prosecutor's office.
The alley is regularly used as a shortcut by people walking between Mount Ephraim and Haddon avenues in the city's Gateway area, neighbors say.
Townsend said the alley is "in close vicinity" to Burnett's residence.
The cause and manner of the child's death are still undetermined, said Townsend, who was flanked by law enforcement officers and two large photos of a smiling Jah'vi.
Anyone with information about Jah'vi, including his last known whereabouts, is asked to call Prosecutor's Detective Matt Barber at 856-225-5166 or Camden County Police Detective Matt Barber at 609-706-6590.
Calls can also be made to Bellmawr police Sgt. Bill Perna at 609-471-1079.
"This is an exhaustive investigation," said Townsend. "We weren't going to stop until we identified that child."
Jim Walsh: @jimwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; firstname.lastname@example.org