The search continues in Memphis, Tennessee, for 10-month-old Lauryn Dickens as authorities attempt to figure out her whereabouts and exactly who is telling the truth regarding her disappearance. According to My Eyewitness News, Memphis Police arrested Lauryn Dickens’ mother, Shakara, Thursday night after concluding that her stories were not only inconsistent but many of the details were unverifiable. The 19-year-old was arraigned Friday and remains in jail, her bail set at $2 million.
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin told My Eyetness News: “We can’t confirm anything the way she is saying it is. She has been all over the board with different stories.” He added, “I really believe and feel the child has suffered bodily harm.”
Lauryn Dickens went missing on Sept. 7. Shakara Dickens, however, did not report the child missing for eight days, telling Memphis investigators that she hadn’t come forward sooner because she had given her child to a woman sent by her husband to take care of her. According to police, Dickens said she had talked with Lauryn’s father on Sept. 7 and explained that she was unable to properly care for her child. She said the girl’s father, who was — and currently remains — in jail on various charges, suggested she give the child to a woman he knew. According to her story, she handed over her 10-month-old child to an unfamiliar middle-aged white woman with gray hair and glasses.
The child’s father, Benjamin Norfleet, has maintained throughout that he knows nothing about his daughter’s disappearance. A police affidavit noted that he has not spoken with Shakara Dickens since August.
A search of Shakara Dickens’ apartment with cadaver dogs resulted in samples being sent for testing. Memphis investigators are hopeful lab findings will provide DNA matches. Police Director Godwin noted that there might be additional charges appended to the two already levied against Dickens.
Dickens was charged with aggravated child neglect and endangerment and filing a false report. The two charges could net her up to 60 years in prison. “Hopefully, we’ll have enough to charge her with something else,” Godwin said.
According to The Commercial Appeal, investigators also had become wary of Shakara Dickens’ contradicting accounts of what happened to Lauryn when she recounted the story to family and friends.
Even though a body has yet to be recovered, authorities stated in a filed affidavit that there was “”probable cause to believe that the child has sustained serious bodily injury.” Combined with the fact that cadaver dogs — which are trained to hone in on the smells of deteriorated flesh — picked up a scent in the mother’s apartment, authorities were prompted to make a decision to charge Shakara Dickens in connection with the disappearance of her daughter.
However, Godwin said that Memphis Police may not have enough evidence to charge Dickens with homicide.
Although it is not unheard of for prosecutors to charge suspects without a body, it is considered problematic and difficult to get a conviction.