Police Release Timeline in the Drowning of the 4-Year-Old Autistic Girl

Police Release Timeline in the Drowning of the 4-Year-Old Autistic Girl August 7, 2018
Picture Courtesy of GoFundMe


Last week a Shakayla Denson drowned her daughter in the Hillsborough River in Florida. News regarding the murder has been widely covered in media. On Friday, August 3rd, the Tampa Bay Police Department gave a detailed account of the events that transpired. In a video, posted to their facebook page, Chief Dugan provided a timeline and answered questions regarding the murder.

The time is as follows:

3:09 pm – Shakayla Denson stole a 2007 Nissan Altima from a car lot. Witnesses said they saw her forcefully push her daughter into the car. One witness attempted to intervene, but she was hit by the vehicle as Shakayla fled the scene.

4:00 pm – Witnesses saw Shakayla Denson exit the 2007 Nissan Altima near the river on Rome Street. The witnesses report that Shakayla forcefully grabbed the child, Je’Hyrah, and walked toward the river. Next, the witnesses say the young child was screaming, and then Shakayla began to scream. Shakayla picked up her daughter and walked into the river. She walked out into the water until the water touched her shoulders. Shakayla then released her daughter. The mother then turned around and walked to shore. Shakayla walked north on Rome. Officers detained Shakayla about 1/2 mile from the scene.

4:16 pm – Divers begin to search for the child in the water.

4:30 pm – Divers locate the girl. Rescue personnel transported the girl to the hospital.

4:49 pm – Je’Hyrah Daniels is pronounced dead at St. Joes Hospital

5:50 pm – Witnesses positively identify Shakayla Daniels as the women that placed the girl in the water.

10:30 pm – Shakayla was charged with First Degree Felony Murder, Aggravated Child Abuse, and Grand Theft Auto.

When pressed for details about the mother’s state of mind, the police chief refused to speculate on her mental health. He also mentioned that they were unaware of is she was under the influence of any substances.

The chief reiterated that the whole crime transpired very quickly. He mentioned witnesses felt helpless to try to save the child. Several didn’t know what they were witnessing. Additionally, he pointed out that the river is extremely dark and murky. Je’Hyrah’s body was only located by Divers. She would not have been visible without diving equipment.

Chief Dugan said that everyone is cooperating with the investigation. He was unable to answer any questions regarding Je’Hyrah’s disability. Nor did he speculate the needs of the child played a factor in the crime.

Shakayla is expected in court tomorrow Wednesday, August 8th.

As more details are released, including if the mother experienced psychosis or other mental health issues we will have to wait and see.

With all of that said, mental illness is not an excuse to harm a child. Millions of people in the United States live with Mental Illness and do not harm their children. Until we know the facts, we must not speculate that the little girl’s disability played any factor in the murder.

Remember, if you are in crisis and feel you may harm someone, please call 911 for assistance.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tawreos

    That poor little girl, to be hurt so badly by the one that should have loved her most. I hope she didn’t suffer much.

  • It sounds like she drowned very quickly. Still an awful way to go

  • Jim Jones

    Another example of the inadequate support for those whose children need extra support.

  • Rann

    Unfortunately, there is a culture of fear amongst those who need the support the most. The single parent of a severely challenged youth under my care (school) refused to answer the phone or deal with a social worker. The worker was just trying to offer access to some very heavily subsidized specialized home care for when the youth was sick, so the mother did not have to miss work.