Sources: Police are looking for third person connected to Mariha's disappearance

DNA test on burned body expected soon

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - Action News has learned Detroit Police are looking for a third person in connection with the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl. The child's aunt and another man are already being questioned. 

Mariha Smith disappeared from her home on Burlingame St. early Sunday morning. That same day around 8:00 a.m., investigators found a child's body burned beyond recognition in a vacant house a mile away from Mariah's home.

Kenosha Smith, the girl's mother, says she unwilling to believe the body is her daughter's. Police are treating the two as separate cases, but DNA could link them. Those results could be revealed as early as Thursday.

Kenosha tells Action News when she went to sleep early Sunday morning she was in the house with her four children, three other kids, and two adults. The adults were her sister, Quanita Smith and Quanita's boyfriend Darnell Cheatham.

Action News has learned a third person might've entered the house while Kenosha and the children were sleeping. One of Kenosha's young children says he saw three adults, not including his mother, in the house.

Sources say police are looking for that third person, who is believed to know the Smith family.

Many of Mariha's relatives demonstrated anger and frustration with Quanita, saying she is not being truthful and has failed a lie detector test. They believe she might be scared, but are hoping she'll come forward with helpful information.

In the meantime, Kenosha says she doesn't believe Quanita would harm her niece. However, she does think the child would've screamed or cried if she was awoken by a stranger.

Detroit's homicide team continues to investigate the child's body that was burned beyond recognition on Sunday at a vacant home on Waverly. Investigators found a piece of clothing under the body that seems to match what Mariha was wearing when she disappeared.

Disagreement over whether the little girl is alive fueled anger and fights during a prayer vigil Tuesday evening. The prayers were silenced by gunshots, but nobody was hurt.

 

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