Expert says charges could be pressed without missing baby’s body
Update: Willie Wilson was found not guilty of murder. Read more here.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 3, 2015) -- As police suspended searches for a missing baby and focused on "good, old-fashioned detective work," one expert said an arrest is still possible in the case.
Thursday will mark one week since three-month-old Janna Rivera went missing from her northeast side home. Since then, much of the attention has focused on the baby's father, who told various people that she died and he disposed of her body.
Despite those admissions, Rivera's father remains out of jail and has not been charged in the case. Detectives are staying in contact with him.
"Every day it’s more mystifying to me and my neighbors, as to what happened to the baby," neighbor Tina Whetstone said.
As more days pass, it becomes less and less likely that IMPD investigators will find the baby. The next step will be determining whether they can arrest anyone for her disappearance.
"That’s always hard, when you have a prosecution without a body," attorney Ralph Staples said.
Staples told CBS4 the case would be hard, but not impossible.
"I’ve never done it personally but I know two pretty good prosecutors who secured convictions in cases where the bodies were never found," Staples said.
He also pointed to missing baby Delano Wilson. The six-week-old, who vanished last August, was never found. Six months after he disappeared, police arrested his father Willie Wilson for murder. He remains in jail, pending trial.
Wilson's case came down to surveillance footage that disputed his story, searches of his phone and DNA testing.
"Depending upon locations or where they think things happened, they’ll be looking for videotapes from surveillance cameras and the like and they’ll probably check people’s cell phones to see who’s been moving where and how often they’ve been moving and who they’ve been talking to," Staples said.
It is work that, at this point, becomes tedious. It's necessary, though, as many hope for justice in baby Janna's case.
"They want closure, they want to find their loved one so they can give her a proper burial and we want that too," IMPD Lt. Richard Riddle said.
"It’s a sad state of affairs but we’re praying. We’re still praying," Whetstone said.
If you know anything about Janna Rivera's case, police still hope to gather credible leads to find her. You can call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.