The child went missing last summer after spending the night with her half-brother
A Davenport mother has been left broken and grief stricken after the remains of her 10-year-old daughter were discovered in a rural area near DeWitt, Iowa last week.
Breasia Terrell, known to her family as “Bree,” had been missing since July 2020, after spending the night with her 8-year-old half-brother at the home of his father, Henry Dinkins, per The Des Moines Register. Terrell’s mother, Aishia Lankford, prayed every day since then that her daughter would be found alive.
“Bree texted me and said, “Goodnight, Mama, I love you,’” Lankford recalled of her last communication with her child. “And that’s the last time I heard from her.”
Breasia was featured on Dateline’s “Missing in America” online series last summer shortly after she was reported missing. The child’s remains were reportedly discovered last week by fishermen in a wooded area north of DeWitt.
“This news is heartbreaking,” Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski said Wednesday at a press conference. “To both Breasia’s family and our Davenport community.”
It was Dinkins, 47, who alerted the child’s mother that she was missing the morning after the sleepover with her little brother. After a search warrant was executed at his home, Dinkins, who was convicted of a sex crime in 1990, was arrested and charged with second-offense sex offender registration violation and a probation violation, according to the report.
On Wednesday, Chief Sikorski confirmed that Dinkins remains jailed on charges unrelated to Terrell. However, he is considered a person of interest in the case, but not a suspect, police said.
“Words cannot describe the heartache and emptiness that we feel now that police have confirmed the remains located in DeWitt, Iowa are Breasia,” states a message from the family posted on the Help Find Breasia Terrell Facebook page. “Our love for Breasia has gotten us through the past nine months and will continue to see us through as we fight for justice. We want to thank the community, law enforcement, friends and family who have put in countless hours to help bring Bree home. We ask for privacy as we grieve the loss of our daughter, sister and friend. Our focus will now be on seeking answers to what happened on the night she was last seen.”
Chief Sikorski said in the press conference on Wednesday that the investigation into the child’s death “continues to be a joint investigation by the Davenport Police Department, the Division of Criminal Investigations from the Iowa Department of Public Safety and our partners at the FBI.”
“We grieve alongside Breasia’s family and the community,” said Chief Sikorski in a news release. “What’s important to know is this: the work of our investigators is not over. This is an open and ongoing investigation. We understand that the community wants to know where the investigation stands, and if anyone will be charged in this heinous crime. Because we are fully committed to the integrity of the investigation, we cannot comment on specific details – other than to say we are professionally, thoroughly and with our deepest commitment to justice, continuing the investigation. When we can share details with the community, we will.”
Lankford told the Register she was aware that Dinkins was on the sex offender registry, but since he had been around her daughter since she was a baby, she nor Bree felt unsafe around him.
Terrell never stayed overnight at Dinkins’ house before she went missing, and Lankford only allowed her to do so last summer because she wanted to hang out with her brother. Since his arrest, Dinkins allegedly refuses to speak about the victim and won’t allow Lankford to visit him.
“I can assure our community that investigators are working diligently to bring justice on Breasia’s behalf,” said Cheif Sikorski. “Again, they have been nonstop for the last nine months. I want to assure our community that when we are able to share details on this investigation we will.”
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