ANDERSON, Ind. -- Police say a 23-year-old mother was lured from her home by someone posing as a child services investigator and then stabbed to death, so that her killer could pass the woman's baby off as her own.
Police confirmed Saturday that a body found Friday afternoon at a home in Gary, Indiana, was that of Samantha J. Fleming, who disappeared from her home in Anderson -- 175 miles away -- around April 6. Investigators said her body doused with bleach, wrapped in plastic and stuffed into a bin.
The suspect in Fleming's death, whose name has not yet been released, had set up a nursery in her home and told neighbors the 3-week-old baby was her daughter, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Anderson police detectives believe the suspect lured Fleming and her daughter, Serenity, to the Gary area by posing as an investigator with the Department of Child Services.
"In the days prior to Samantha and Serenity having gone missing, a woman had contacted Samantha’s mother by phone," according to a statement from police. "The woman, having identified herself as a DCS employee, was soliciting information about Samantha and Serenity. The woman provided the names of legitimate DCS employees, and implied that she was familiar with Samantha’s previous DCS case history."
Anderson police, however, have since determined that "no employee of the Department of Child Services had visited 10 W. Claire St, where Samantha and Serenity had been living with Samantha’s boyfriend."
Police said Fleming's phone records indicated she might be in Gary, and a groundskeeper at the Woodlake Village Apartments in Gary found a wallet believed to belong to her. On Friday, Anderson Police Detective Scott Sanderson went to Gary to investigate.
When Sanderson and Gary police officers visited the apartment, they found a woman holding a baby whose name she was unable to provide.
"She explained that the baby was her sister's child, adding that her sister had gone to Texas, one week earlier. The baby had been left in the care of family members," according to the police statement. "Serenity, the baby, is believed to be in good health and has been returned to the care of family members in Indianapolis."
Police believe the sister of the woman found with the baby Friday is their suspect, but she has not yet been charged. According to the statement, she remains in Texas, where she is in a hospital being treated for depression.
Details for this story were reported by The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana.