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Police have arrested Matthew Flugence, 20, for the brutal stabbing death of Ahlittia North, the 6-year-old Harvey, La., girl who was abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night last Saturday.
Flugence is the nephew of Ahlittia’s stepfather and often served as her babysitter and sometimes lived with the couple. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office plans to charge Flugence with first-degree murder in the girl’s death. He will also be booked on an outstanding warrant for the alleged sexual abuse of another 11-year-old Harvey girl. Authorities now say Flugence confessed to the murder and allegedly admitted to murdering the girl sometime Saturday morning.
The Times-Picayune reports that Ahlittia died a brutal death by stabbing, according to an autopsy conducted by the Jefferson Parish Coroners Office. The child had four stab wounds and bruising all over her body. The fatal wounds consisted of two very deep cuts on the side of the girl’s neck. The knife wounds were deep enough to pass through the cartilage in her spine and into her bone.
“That’s a very aggressive stab wound,” coroner Gerry Cvitanovich told the paper. The coroner’s office says there are no initial signs of sexual abuse but police declined comment on the issue.
After her death, Ahlittia’s body was wrapped in her own comforter and discarded in a dumpster not far from where the little girl lived.
Hours after Flugence was named as a person of interest in the case, police were flooded with calls that he was in Westwego. Police were able to arrest him. Authorities say Flugence was carrying a knife that he allegedly admitted was the murder weapon, the paper reports.
Ahlittia’s mother, Lisa North, 20, was distraught at the news.
“I don’t understand the reason,” she told the paper Tuesday evening. “To say, ‘I’m just going to kill your daughter?’ I don’t understand.”
Ahlittia was described as an exuberant child who loved to make others laugh. Her mother says she loved to dance and had recently joined a dance team.
The little girl went missing from the apartment she shared with her mother and stepfather early Saturday. They last saw Ahlittia asleep in her bed, but she was gone — along with some of her personal items — when they awoke in the morning. The door, which the family had locked that night, was left open but there were no signs of forced entry.
Police have also charged Flugence’s brother, Russell Flugence, 21, with obstruction of justice. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says that Russell Flugence allegedly knew of his brother’s involvement in the girl’s death.
News reports described both men as being hostile to questions. The Times-Picayune reports:
When asked about Ahlittia during questioning, Russell Flugence said, “I don’t give a f- about that little girl,” according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. When news reporters asked Matthew Flugence whether he killed Ahlittia as he walked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional facility in Gretna, Normand said he told them, “And f’ed your mother, too”
Matthew Flugence is charged with first degree murder and sexual battery and is being held without bond. His brother has a bond of $250,000.
There was a massive search for the girl, involving multiple law enforcement agencies and the FBI. After authorities took DNA samples from Ahlittia’s family members, they got a break in the case when they discovered a pool of blood not far from Ahlittia’s home.
DNA testing identified the blood as Ahlittia’s Monday evening, and police continued their canvassing. A detective noticed a new item he had not seen in the bin before and dug deeper. Ahlittia was found wrapped in a garbage bag. She was wearing the same pink and gray pajamas that her mother had last seen her alive in.
Police are still trying to determine the exact sequence of events in Ahlittia’s death. Meanwhile, a memorial of stuffed animals sprouted up as the community came out to mourn Ahlittia.
Lisa North’s mother, Rena Johnson, 38, said the loss is destroying her daughter and “tearing her apart” with grief.
Lisa North is struggling to make sense of what happened to her daughter.
“They could have brought her back home, but they killed her and put her in a trash can,” North cried after learning of her daughter’s death.