AN investigation is underway after the body of a three-year-old girl was found in the trash outside her grandmother’s home.
Becky Ann Vreeland, 60, the girl’s grandmother, is being held by the Cleveland County Jail and is charged with first-degree murder and child neglect.
The 911 call came from inside the home, where two other children were also present, said police.
It’s unclear what the motive behind the crime was, but police said Vreeland was in charge of caring for the little girl.
“Officers found clear signs of trauma to the child’s body. The child had been dead for a period of time at least. It hadn’t just happened,” said Master Sergeant Gary Knight.
Residents in the usually quiet neighborhood expressed their surprise to see the area turn into a crime scene.
“It’s shocking that something like this is going on. Just, what? 200 yards away?” Jack Cribbs told KFOR.
Cribbs said he never met the grandmother but has seen the children outside the home once or twice.
“I keep them in my prayers. Like I said, I didn’t really know the people. I hate to see anything like that happen to any child, or even anybody,” he said.
Next-door neighbor, Marsha Brannum, was more emotional upon learning the news saying, “I wish I had paid more attention.”
“I could have been some more assistance for her if she was having trouble… That kind of shocks me,” she said.
“I don’t understand it because, like I said, she seemed like a very hardworking grandmother, and I could hear her play with the children in the backyard.”
Brannum said she spoke with Vreeland just the other day.
“To hurt a child on purpose, it’s just overwhelming. I see my grandchildren and I’m always telling them, ‘Don’t be so friendly. You can’t be, you can’t trust anybody,’” she said.