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Police digging for bodies of missing mom and child | News

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Police digging for bodies of missing mom and child

Winter Haven, Florida - Detectives and evidence technicians with the Winter Haven police are digging in an orange grove today for a missing mother and her daughter.  

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

29-year-old  Ronkeya Holmes and her 3-year-old daughter Masaraha went missing in October of 2009 and haven't been seen since. 

In April of 2009 Ronkeya left her daughter, Masaraha, with the child's father Lester Ross who lives in Winter Haven. Ronkeya wanted to focus on her early Early Childhood Care and Education classes at Savannah Technical College. Six months after her classes ended in early October, she tried to get her daughter back.

Her mother says it wasn't an easy process.

Edith Fletcher who lives in Savannah says, "She would call and say, 'Well you know, let me speak to Masaraha' or 'I'm going to come get her.' He would always say she's either asleep or she's out of town. And I just told her to just go and get her and so when she got there, he didn't want to give her to her." 

Lester Ross told investigators that he handed over his daughter to Ronkeya on October 18 at a Walmart in Haines City. Ross says he hasn't seen or heard from either of them since.

But police say they have no evidence that the child exchange actually happened. Fletcher doesn't believe the exchange ever happened either. She says, "Even with the surveillance cameras that they have at Walmart, they didn't show him nowhere."

Meanwhile on the same day around 11 p.m. Ross's cousin, Joseph Wilcox, was stopped by Lake Mary Police. He was driving Ronkeya's car, but Ronkeya and Masaraha were not in the vehicle. Wilcox was arrested on unrelated charges.

Investigators said they received inconsistent stories from the people involved and so believed from the beginning that the mother and daughter were in danger. 

Lt. Brad Coleman says this is now the second day of digging which is under way near the intersection of Dundee Road and Sage Road in Winter Haven. Lt. Coleman adds, "We received really credible information that bodies were buried in that grove." He adds, if any bodies are found it could take some time before any remains can be identified.

The process could be difficult, because neither Ronkeya or Masaraha have any dental records.

Lester Ross was recently arrested. He was taken into custody early Friday morning in Lakeland, accused of not paying child or spousal support and grand theft. He has since bonded out of jail.

Detectives say while he was renting a house in Winter Haven, he used utilities without paying. The house is located at
703 Hemenway Drive and was searched on October 18 of this year.

Evidence technicians also dug up the back yard looking for clues after he was evicted from the house. Investigators didn't find anything there.  

In this current dig, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Polk County Sheriff's Office is assisting. 


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