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Police: Child's body kept in dad's freezer | Crime

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Police: Child's body kept in dad's freezer
Crime, News
Police: Child's body kept in dad's freezer

Winter Haven, Florida - New details are being released in the case of a mother and her daughter who went missing out of Polk County last year.

29-year-old Ronkeya Holmes and her 3-year-old daughter Masaraha went missing in October of 2009. Six months earlier Ronkeya left Masaraha with the girl's father Lester Ross, who was living in Winter Haven with his wife Sharon.

Ronkeya left her child with Ross so she could focus on her early Early Childhood Care and Education classes at Savannah Technical College in Savannah, Georgia. When her classes ended she tried to get her daughter back, but family members say Ross gave her the run-around repeatedly.

Ross told investigators that he handed his daughter over to Ronkeya on October 18 at a Walmart in Haines City, but police say they've never been able to locate surveillance video to support the claim. Winter Haven police say Ross continues to maintain that he hasn't seen or heard from either of them since that day.

But in an arrest warrant for Lester Ross, his wife Sharon tells a different story to Winter Haven police. She says she came home on May 28 of 2009 and found Masaraha Ross dead at their home at 703 Hemenway Drive NE in Winter Haven.

Sharon Ross says Lester told her Masaraha's death was an accident. She told detectives she believed that he kept the child's body in a deep freezer in their home for several months without ever notifying law enforcement.

She also says that on October 20 of 2009 she came home from work and Lester made her stay in the vehicle as he loaded  two items into the trunk of the vehicle. She says it appeared he was struggling or straining and that the items were wrapped in sheets.  

She says Lester then directed her to drive to an orange grove off Dundee Road in Winter Haven. She says she pulled up and parked next to a telephone pole adjacent to the orange grove. Sharon claims Lester removed the items from the trunk and carried them into the grove before returning to the vehicle.

She says after they arrived at home Lester wrapped a cord around her neck and told her if she ever told anybody about what happened, that he would kill her.  

Based on the statements of Sharon Ross, evidence technicians and detectives conducted a dig for the missing mother and daughter's remains on December 21st and 22nd.

Photo Gallery: Police dig for bodies of missing mother and child

Winter Haven police say they found skeleton remains of an adult and a child in a shallow grave in the orange grove in the location that Sharon described.

Winter Haven police say they believe that Lester Ross murdered Ronkeya Holmes to hide the fact that Masaraha was dead and to avoid facing any criminal charges.

Meanwhile, an autopsy is being performed to officially determine the identification of the remains that were found and how the two people died. Lester Ross remains in jail. At this time he is facing a tampering with or harassing a witness charge, which is a felony. He could face additional charges once the remains are identified.

Lester Ross was also recently arrested for two misdemeanor charges.

Monday evening Ronkeya's mother, Edith Fletcher, reacted to the allegations in the arrest warrant. She says, "The baby was in the freezer. That's the hardest part in the world to really believe. You can't even see that. Imagine that. It's like a horror story." 

Fletcher adds, "I think my heart goes out so bad for the baby. To know you can kill your own daughter and put her in the freezer for that length of time."

She says she believes Lester killed the little girl and lied to Ronkeya by always saying the baby was sleeping or out of town. Fletcher thinks Ronkeya finally put her foot down and started asking questions and that's when she thinks Lester decided to kill her too.

Fletcher isn't sure whether she believes Masaraha's death was an accident but says she wishes Sharon Ross would have come forward sooner. She feels that she's at fault too. "I just hope God has mercy on both of them because if you waited this long you are just as much at fault as he is."

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