Home of Bridgeton mother charged with the murder of her toddler son gave off a 'burnt smell', prosecutors revealed
Prosecutors revealed in the Cumberland County Superior Court on February 19 that the home of a local woman who was charged with killing, burning, and dismembering her son, had a "burnt smell", according to the police officers who were looking for her allegedly abducted little boy. Bridgeton Police Department said that on Friday, February 8 24-year-old mother-of-two Nakira M. Griner had initially reported that her 23-month-old son Daniel Griner Jr. had been abducted at approximately 6:36 p.m.
The latest revelation comes through the testimony from the authorities came during a detention hearing for Griner who did not attend due to what her attorney said were "mental health" issues. The mother is currently in protective custody and is under suicide watch at the county jail. The hearing on Tuesday only lasted for about 20 minutes and Judge Robert Malestein ordered that the mother remains in custody pending her trial. According to the Vineland Daily Journal, the judge said: "The facts are troubling."
Kim Schultz, the defense attorney, had argued for a conditional release in the court and suggested home detention with an order that Griner cannot be near her surviving child. She also said that the surviving baby is with his father. Schultz then said that the evidence in the case does not support the first-degree murder charge that was laid out against Griner. She said that the death of 23-month-old Daniel Griner Jr. was most probably an accident and that the young mother panicked.
The arrest complaint stated that the defendant had eventually told the investigators that she had hit her son because he would not eat his breakfast. County Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Vogelsong said that Griner later elaborated on the story and told the authorities that she had abandoned her son in his stroller so that she could avoid being blamed.
Vogelsong said: "Judge, I strongly disagree with the term 'accident'. And there’s nothing in this investigation to make us believe that this was any type of accident, and we will not be proceeding as if it’s an accident."
In the decision made by Malestein, he said that it was a "little bit bizarre" that the windows in the home were wide open while the fans were running on the day that Griner reported her son was abducted. The details were noted down by the authorities when they conducted a search of Griner's property on February 8.
Schultz then claimed that Griner seems to have suffered from post-partum depression for a long period of time and that the condition turned into psychosis after she had her second child. The attorney said: "I think that the chain of events that transpired support that. I … did speak to her family members, who said that she had a visiting nurse that came to the house. Also, a social worker that came to the house. And I believe, at least preliminarily, that was for treatment for post-partum depression. And again, psychosis."
Vogelsong responded: "Judge, I’m not going to argue the issue of post-partum at this point. There’s nothing that we have before us, no documentation, to support that she was being treated for that or that she was diagnosed with that."
Nakira Griner, the Bridgeton mom accused of murdering toddler son and burning his remains, missed detention hearing for suicide concerns. Her attorney says killing accidental and result of postpartum psychosis. Judge denied release from jail. pic.twitter.com/NW21kmvyot— Cleve Bryan CBS3 (@CleveBryan) February 19, 2019
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported that the authorities began their investigation at around 6:36 p.m. on February 8 when a report came in of violent child abduction after two unknown males attacked Griner. She called the authorities herself and informed them of what happened. The mother told the dispatch that her toddler son was strapped to her chest when the attack happened. A major multi-agency search began based on the violent abduction claims but the authorities said her story fell apart quickly.
Vogelsong said that footage from the surveillance cameras in the area captured the mother walking with a stroller but a closer look revealed that the stroller had been empty. The lawyer said: "During the abduction search, consent was given to search the Griner home. When police arrived at the home on Woodland Drive, all the windows were open and the fans were on. One officer commented that he smelled a burnt smell in the home."
She continued: "Police began becoming suspicious of Griner when her description of events began to change. First and foremost, based on her description of the attack, there were no injuries observed on either Griner or the younger child from the attack that she had claimed to sustain."
The child's father was asked by the authorities if he thought anything in the family home looked amiss and Vogelsong said that Daniel Griner pointed out a specific bag to the officers that was normally kept in the office. He said: "It was a large handbag with pink trim that belonged to his wife, Nakira Griner, and had last been seen inside the house. Closer examination of the contents of that bag was determined to be burnt child remains."
The charges that were laid out against the mother are first-degree murder, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, second-degree desecration of human remains, and fourth-degree tampering with evidence. If convicted, Griner would face a minimum of 30 years behind bars. According to testimony, a term of life in prison is also a possibility given the age of the child and the factors surrounding his death. The case is scheduled to resume in March with a pre-indictment hearing before another judge.