The last time anyone saw two sisters, Destiny and Daysha Hogan, was less than a day before their young bodies were found in a Lauderhill canal.
On Wednesday, two balloons with the word “princess” written on them served as a makeshift memorial near the spot where the body of one of the girls was found.
Lauderhill police named their mother, Tinessa Hogan, as a person of interest at a news conference Wednesday evening.
Neighbors said Hogan, who was known as Precious, was seen carrying a Bible and on at least one occasion asked people if they wanted to be baptized.
Marie Williams, a neighbor, told the Miami Herald that on Monday she saw Hogan swimming in the same L-shaped canal the young sisters would be found in hours later. Hogan asked the neighbor if she could baptize her kids, who are under the age of 14.
The neighbor declined and brought her children inside.
“I was more concerned for her,” she said. “I should have been more cautious.”
This conversation happened between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Lauderhill Police Lt. Mike Bigwood said the last time Destiny, 9, and Daysha, 7, were seen alive was around 5 p.m. that day.
On Tuesday, just after noon, at least two 911 calls came in reporting a possible body in the canal at the 2200 block of Northwest 59th Way.
“I need you guys to come... to see if there is a little girl’s body in the water,” one caller told dispatch. “I can’t tell if it’s a mannequin head, I mean a mannequin body or a body that’s been in the water for some days.”
When officers responded they found Destiny’s body in the canal. About nine hours later, Daysha’s body was found.
Destiny was found behind the Habitat II Condominiums in the 5900 block of Northwest 21st Street, and Daysha was found in the 2100 block of Northwest 59th Way.
A nearby neighbor shared with the Miami Herald a video of Daysha’s body — who was wearing a gray shirt with three cartoon-style Black women. Her hands and feet were pale white, and there was a white substance on her face.
The sisters are from the area, police said, as well as their mother, but records show she has ties to Daytona Beach. Hogan also has family outside the county, who police noted that they have contacted.
Fliers were shown to neighbors Wednesday with Hogan and the children’s pictures as authorities investigated. Neighbors Michelle Golden and Shakima Birch sat near the canal and said they have seen the sisters playing before, never imagining that something like this could happen.
Bigwood said Hogan is not under arrest, but she has been contacted. The woman, in her late 30s, also has not been questioned, he added.
The case is being investigated as a suspicious death and as a criminal investigation, which Bigwood said is routine. He also added that the community at large is not at risk.
It was still not clear how long the girls’ bodies had been in the canal or their cause of death.
Police are making a plea to the public, specifically to the community of central Lauderhill, asking if anyone knows the family, the children and/or are familiar with their relationship. Police are also seeking information on whether the family belonged to any churches or organizations.
“Please call us. We desperately need to know what these relationships are and put some context to how this may have happened,” Bigwood said.
Anyone who knows anything about what happened to these children should call Lauderhill Police Department, 954-497-4700, or Broward Crime Stoppers, 954-493-8477 (TIPS).
Miami Herald staff writer David J. Neal contributed to this report.