A Louisiana woman accused of killing her boyfriend’s 6-year-old daughter and leaving the child’s body in a bucket outside the home where the girl’s mother lives has been jailed without bond in a New Orleans suburb, authorities said.
Bunnak Landon, 43, of Harahan, was booked Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of Bella Fontenelle, jail records show.
Landon, who is also known as Hannah Landon and Bunnak Lim, is on suicide watch at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna and did not appear for a hearing Thursday in Jefferson Parish Magistrate Court, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
The Jefferson Parish Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent her, the newspaper reported. A telephone call seeking comment on her behalf was not immediately returned.
Bella Fontenelle was a kindergartner at St. Matthew the Apostle school, CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported, and the school closed for two days after her death.
“This is indeed a horrific tragedy that will impact our school and parish community. Because of the very challenging and sensitive nature of the situation and, in order to help our faculty and families in processing this news, we have made the decision to cancel all classes tomorrow, Thursday, April 27 and Friday April 28,” an email from the school said.
Sheriff Joseph Lopinto told news outlets that Landon and the child’s father share a home in Harahan about two blocks from the child’s mother’s home. The victim’s father notified police his daughter was missing after he woke up Wednesday morning.
Harahan Police began searching the neighborhood and found the child’s body in a 10-gallon bucket on the front lawn of the child’s mothe’rs home, according to the sheriff.
An autopsy determined the child’s death was a homicide. Initially, Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich did not release details on how the child died to first share the results with the family before releasing it to the public.
“Preliminary findings show the cause of death to be manual strangulation along with blunt force injuries to the head,” Cvitanovich said in a statement Thursday.
Cvitanovich added that the child’s body was intact, WWL-TV reported.
“I want to add that Bella’s body was intact and contrary to public speculation, there was no dismemberment of any kind,” Cvitanovich said, according to the station. “This is not something we’re happy to do. It’s something that’s hard to see and it’s even more hard to unsee.”
Surveillance video from a home in the neighborhood showed a woman, who authorities say is Landon, pulling the bucket in a wagon on the street leading toward the home of Fontenelle’s mother about 9:35 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We believe Bella was killed at the father’s house and then transported over to the mother’s house,” Lopinto said.
Landon showed up at the police department’s headquarters early Wednesday, shortly after midnight. She was taken to an area hospital for an evaluation but authorities did not say what she did or what prompted officers to seek the medical review, the newspaper reported.
“Child deaths are always terrible. especially ones like this that should not have happened,” Cvitanovich said, according to WWL-TV. “Quite honestly, it’s personal for all of us.”