Candle wax has melted and reformed into drip castles on the front steps of the apartment, stuffed animals and it's-a-girl-pink heart balloons sweltering in the sun below a photo of a 5-year-old girl.
Nevaeh Lashy Adams is posing in the photo with …
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Nevaeh Lashy Adams is posing in the photo with her hands shaped like a heart - all family members have to plead with for her safe return. They, with friends and neighbors at the Lantana Apartments off Carolina Avenue in Sumter, remained gathered outside as police officers and media stood around, talking, waiting. Police said on Tuesday night they think the child has been dead since her mother was killed in the apartment where they lived Monday. The body of Sharee Bradley, 29, was found by a family member Monday, but Adams remains missing.
"We're not going to stop until we find her," said Tamalia Witherspoon, an aunt to Bradley.
Officers continued the search for the girl's body Wednesday after spending Monday night and Tuesday searching county landfills in Sumter and Richland because the man who has been charged with murder in the mother's case, 28-year-old Daunte Maurice Johnson, told officers he killed both Bradley and Adams and disposed of the child's body in a Dumpster on the property.
City of Sumter City Utilities Department data shows Carolina Avenue and Gamecock Village Court have trash picked up by the city on Tuesdays, but it is on the boundary of the Monday route.
Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the Sumter Police Department, said officers checked the Dumpsters on Monday, and they had been emptied and replaced sometime after Bradley was killed but before her body was discovered.
The Sumter County Coroner's Office said at the beginning of the week that Bradley had been dead for a few hours before being discovered.
"She was a sweet, kind, beautiful mamma," the father of Bradley's oldest child said. He said she was everything a mother is supposed to be to her kids.
Police officers conducted aerial and ground searches around the apartments Wednesday, including in vacant buildings and apartments.
Wednesday morning, the family, including Bradley's mother and stepfather, brother and 12-year-old son and Adams' father and his wife, spoke to WIS with Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark to thank the officers and community for their role in the investigation.
"I hope we find my sister, and I hope my mother rests in peace," Adams' brother told WIS.
Family members are keeping hope the girl is alive and pleaded that if anyone has her to give her up.
Later in the afternoon on Wednesday, Sumter County Magistrate Judge Larry Blanding denied bond to Johnson, returning him to the Sumter County Sheriff's Office Detention Center.
WIS live-streamed the bond hearing without audio. During the stream, a woman in the group on behalf of the victims' family was taken out of the room after becoming visibly upset before Johnson signed the judge's orders.
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