Things That Matter

The Missing Toddler Who Was Allegedly Sold For $10K By An Uber Driver Has Been Found Dead

Many say that the worst thing that can happen to a parent is to lose their child. Well, that worst happened on Saturday evening to Paul Johnson after a rideshare driver abducted his daughter, according to police documents. Now, a woman is in custody but the toddler is still missing. 

The child reportedly was sold for $10,000 according to police reports. 

According to the father, as reported by ABC 15 Arizona, he was riding in a car with Lyft and Uber stickers with his daughter and a friend. 

When he got out of the car to get his daughter out of the car seat, the driver drove away with the toddler, according to a criminal complaint that was filed by the Allegheny County police in Pennsylvania. While the complaint didn’t identify the child, the police news release said she is named Nalani. 

According to police reports, the father, Paul Johnson, told detectives he tried calling the driver’s cellphone numerous times but she never answered. After trying to call the driver, he called 911 at 5 p.m. eastern time. A couple of hours after, police arrest the woman, named Sharena Nancy, 25, in the vehicle during a traffic stop around 7:30 p.m. eastern time. However, they did not find the child inside, the police complaint said. 

The driver allegedly told detectives that the father of the toddler “sold the child to an individual for $10,000 and asked her to complete the dropoff.”

According to CNN, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said during a press conference on Tuesday that Nancy, the driver of the car, was a woman “with whom Johnson was in the beginning of an ‘intermittent romantic relationship.'”

McDonough said the couple became close over social media in the past few months and all had previously spent time together with Johnson’s daughter. According to police reports, Nancy and Johnson had allegedly gotten into an argument on Saturday but they didn’t elaborate on the details of the argument. But once Johnson and his daughter exited the car, that’s when the driver drove away with the toddler. 

Now, authorities and the toddler’s family members are asking the public to help them locate the child and to contact them with any tips. 

“We miss Nalani. We want her home. If anyone has any info — it doesn’t matter how big or small — please call into the tip line,” Nalani’s grandmother, Taji Walsh, said during the Tuesday press conference, according to CNN.

Further, the driver told authorities that Johnson showed her a “photo of a black woman she was supposed to meet and asked her to drive the toddler ’20 minutes’ from a gas station in Monroeville along US Route 22 to meet the woman.” She said the woman in question would “flag” her down and Nancy would then be advised to turn over the toddler.

Nancy also told detectives involved with the case that everything had gone according to the alleged plan and she passed the toddler along with the car seat over to a woman and then she drove off. She said she also noticed a second woman inside the SUV that drove off with the toddler. But Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said during the press conference on Tuesday that they have no evidence to corroborate Nancy’s version of the events. 

Nalani’s grandmother also told CNN affiliate KDKA, that the driver’s account of the events is completely false.

“If the police felt that PJ was in any way involved, he wouldn’t be walking free, he’d be locked somewhere up like she is,” Nalani’s grandmother said to CNN. 

The driver is currently being held in jail without bail at the Allegheny County Jail. According to ABC 15 Arizona, she was arraigned on Monday and charged with kidnapping of a minor.

So far, she has also been charged with interference with custody of children and concealment of whereabouts of a child. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 16. 

Media outlets were unable to identify or reach out to an attorney for Nancy. Representatives of Uber also did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Dana Davis, a communications manager for Lyft, told CNN that while the incident did not happen on the Lyft platform, they have still banned Nancy from driving with the rideshare company, and they also said that the allegations made against her were “deeply disturbing.”

Nalani, the kidnapped toddler, is about 23 months old, with her second birthday on September 15. According to CNN, she’s about 3 feet tall and weighs about 30 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

The body of the 23-month-old toddler was found Tuesday at a park in Indiana County. As of this report, authorities have not released any information on whether or not Nancy is now a suspect in the child’s death.

Ex-Cheerleader Found Not Guilty Of Murdering Newborn She Buried In Backyard

Things That Matter

Ex-Cheerleader Found Not Guilty Of Murdering Newborn She Buried In Backyard

@Cosmopolitan / Twitter

Brooke Skylar Richardson was charged with killing her newborn daughter and burying her in the backyard of her parent’s home. The 20-year-old from Ohio was found not guilty of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter. 

Richardson was, however, convicted for abuse of a corpse and sentenced to three years probation. After completing the three years she could potentially have the conviction expunged from her record. 

The unsettling story about the Ohio cheerleader, who according to prosecutors, executed her baby and covered it up as not to “ruin her perfect life,” gripped the media, garnering national attention in 2017. 

Brooke Skylar Richardson is accused of burning her baby alive. 

According to the Daily Beast, Richardson discovered she was pregnant in April 2017 while visiting the gynecologist to receive birth control for the first time. The 18-year-old kept the news that she was 32 weeks pregnant a secret. On her senior prom night, Richardson gave birth in the family bathroom. 

This is where dueling narratives occur. Richardson says her child was a stillbirth. Horrified, she dug a shallow grave in her backyard and buried the daughter she named Annabelle. The prosecutors claimed Richardson killed her baby, burned her body and then buried her because she didn’t want to give up her perfect life. 

“Assistant prosecutor Steven Knippen said in court that days after the baby’s death Richardson sent two text messages bragging about her [thinner] appearance,” according to NBC News.

However, the death only came to law enforcement’s attention because of Richardson’s own confession. When her gynecologist pressed her about the pregnancy, she told him about the stillbirth. The doctor reported her to the police for possible child abuse. 

“My biggest regret is not having the strength to tell someone that I was pregnant. I wish I would have done it differently,” Richardson told Cosmopolitan. “I’m plagued by guilt every day for not telling someone.”

Richardson claims the police coerced a confession out of her.

According to Richardson’s defense team, police questioned her for hours until she confessed to trying to cremate the remains of her baby.

Richardson would spend the next couple of years enduring a grueling trial where she endured bullying and harassment from members of her community that labeled her a “baby killer.” 

Despite a seemingly national smear campaign, a jury of seven women and five men found her not guilty after an eight-day trial in September. They found there was no evidence she burned her baby.

However, prosecutors remain certain that Richardson murdered Annabelle. They believe she has a personality disorder because she was sexually abused when she was 12 and that during her police interview, Richardson claimed she heard the baby making sounds and burned it with a lighter. 

“I understand why the jury did what they did. I get it. But, I do believe she killed her child. As I sit here today, I believe it. I understand there are proof issues,” prosecutor David Fornshell told Local 12. “The fact that she meets 15 out of the 15 criteria for neonaticide to just walk away, you know what, we’re not going to try. That’s not who we are.”

Richardson speaks out for the first time since being acquitted. 

Cosmopolitan published an interview with Richardson, where she spoke out about the ordeal for the first time. 

“I spent a lot of my time depressed,” Richardson said of the past two years. “Every night, I would lie down and wish that I could have died in place of Annabelle.”

When news spread about the criminal charges, most of Richardson’s friends abandoned her. Her community turned on her, many of whom would leak information to the press by snapping photos of her in her home. Others devoted Facebook groups to the trial where they would share conspiracy theories and say things like “burn Skylar alive.” 

“It was so hard to live knowing the truth but to have the whole world think otherwise,” she said. “The people out there who hate me so much and wish horrible things upon me also do not know me.”

Richardson deactivated social media and took up new hobbies like reading, cooking knitting, and doing her makeup every day even if she scarcely left the house. In the end, she kept at least one good friend.

“These things just happen—babies are stillborn— women shouldn’t be blamed for that,” Ashley, an old friend from middle school told Cosmopolitan. “It’s sickening what they have done to her. I just try to keep it as normal as possible and be there for her as a friend.” Another longtime friend says Skylar told her that she “misses her baby.”

Richardson told Cosmo that she didn’t take a plea deal, which reduced her charges from a life sentence to 15 years because she knew she wasn’t guilty. 

“I knew in my heart of hearts that I was innocent,” she said. In the end, a jury of her peers agreed. 

The Dine and Dash of $11 Worth of Chalupas Left One Woman With Almost $500 in Fines and a Felony Conviction

Culture

The Dine and Dash of $11 Worth of Chalupas Left One Woman With Almost $500 in Fines and a Felony Conviction

tacobell / Instagram

With the advent of cuisines like Tex Mex or “Latin-Fusion” cuisines, it can be difficult to find good, authentic Mexican food out in the wild. Especially when so many non-Latinx Americans considers “authentic” Mexican food to be fast-food joints like Taco Bell and Del Taco. It’s practically a universal right for Mexican abuelas to grumble about how disgusting Americanized Mexican food is. And can we blame them? Sure, we love a Crunch Wrap Supreme as much as the next person, but the fast-food twists on Mexican classics give non-Mexicans a warped perception of what true Mexican food actually tastes like. 

And apparently, this problem has become so bad that one particular argument over the authenticity of a certain Mexican food item went all the way up to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The seedy story involves a chalupa, an argument, and an unpaid bill.

Credit: @hotforfood/Instagram

Los Amigos, an Indiana restaurant specializing in “authentic” Mexican food, took a woman named Jennifer Peru to court because she refused to pay for a chalupa that she claimed wasn’t a real chalupa.

On its surface, we can understand why Culver was confused. The chalupas that are sold at Taco Bell are described as  “a fried tortilla shell, in the shape of a small boat, filled with lots of flavorful ingredients”, and Culver may have been used to that version. But according to Los Amigos’s menu, their chalupa is “a flat tortilla with refried beans, topped with cheese and guacamole salad”. To no one’s suprrise, there is quite a stark contrast between the way a fast food joint approaches making Mexican food in comparison to the way a local, mom-and-pop store would make one. 

Credit: via GoogleMaps

The conflict, which happened on February 6, 2018, became a lot dicier after the restaurant’s manager intervened to attempt to alleviate Ms. Culver’s distress. According to court documents, the manager did everything he was supposed to do according to American standards of customer service. He offered to replace the chalupa, he offered to give Culver something different, and he offered to remove the dish and refund her money. Culver refused his offer and continued her meal with her two children (who had ordered a quesadilla and two drinks, in case you were wondering). 

Credit: via GoogleMaps

But things between Culver and Los Amigos took a turn for the worse after Culver finished her chalupa and quietly tried to leave the restaurant without paying her bill.

According to court records, Culver tried to sneak out of the restaurant by walking “briskly” past the cash register with her two children in tow. But the restaurant manager caught up to Culver in the parking lot before she could make her great escape. After being asked to pay her $11.73 bill, Culver responded that she’s “not paying for that [expletive]”. Because the manager wasn’t one to mess around with, he called the cops on the dine-and-dasher and reported her for theft. 

According to the local police, they called Culver five times asking her to pay for her stolen chalupa, and assured her that if she coughed up $12, the restaurant would not pursue legal action. But apparently, Culver was convinced that she was in the right in this situation. As promised, Los Amigos decided to press charges and Culver was convicted for theft. The charge was then elevated to felony theft after the courts discovered she had a prior conviction for the theft on her record. 

Credit: @livingkool_/Instagram

Ultimately, a jury convicted Culver of a level 6 felony theft, resulting in 120 days on electronic monitoring, and 14 months of probation, and fined a cumulative total of $485.

Culver wasn’t happy with this decision, however, and appealed the conviction in the Indiana Court of Appeals. But the Court of Appeals held up the original conviction, unanimously deciding that Culver had, indeed, unlawfully dined and dashed, veritably stealing from Los Amigos. As of now, the saga has ended. It’s safe to say that Culver learned the lesson of not messing with the manager of an authentic Mexican restaurant. 

According to some brief internet research, this isn’t the first time that Los Amigos has resorted to teaming up with law enforcement in order to combat difficult customers. One particularly salty 2019 Google review of Los Amigos claims that the restaurant stated they “were going to call the cops” if a woman attempted to not pay for her meal after she complained of its quality at the cash register. While the woman claimed she had no intention of doing so, she was still annoyed that the matter was on the verge of being escalated so abruptly. Considering this altercation happened a full year after The Chalupa Incident of 2019, it’s no wonder the staff was on edge. If there’s one thing Los Amigos doesn’t stand for, it’s claims that their food is inauthentic.