INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 28, 2015) -- The father of missing Baby Janna Rivera says he put a pillow over the infant's face to muffle her cries.
According to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, James Fairbanks faces charges of murder and neglect of a dependent resulting in death following the disappearance of his infant daughter Janna, who was reported missing on May 29, 2015. Fairbanks was arrested Thursday.
According to court documents, police were called to the 4100 block of Candy Apple Boulevard on May 29 in response to a report of a missing child. The child turned out to be 3-month-old Janna Rivera. The girl’s mother said her boyfriend, Fairbanks, had taken care of the girl while she was at work. When she arrived home, Janna was gone.
Fairbanks told her the “baby was dead” and he buried her in a cornfield. The mother’s other daughters were present when Fairbanks said it. Police found Fairbanks lying in bed upstairs and said he was intoxicated. He told them he didn’t know where the baby went.
IMPD and IFD investigators searched the home and a nearby retention pond for any signs of the girl. They also conducted an air search.
One of the daughters told investigators she remembered hearing Janna crying around noon. She said Fairbanks came downstairs around 1 p.m. with Janna and heard her sister ask where Fairbanks was going and “why is he carrying her like that?” Fairbanks then took the baby to the car and left.
The daughter said her mother was “worried sick” for eight hours until Fairbanks returned home. When he did come back, he started crying and said she was dead and he couldn’t save her. The daughter said they found vodka in a bottle in the car and told investigators that Fairbanks drank a lot.
When he wasn’t drinking, she said, he was careful with the baby. When he’s drunk “he doesn’t want to do anything with the baby,” court documents said. The daughter said Fairbanks yells at baby Janna when she is crying or fussy.
The daughter also told police Fairbanks has covered Janna with a pillow before when she cries. On two occasions, she removed the pillow, court documents said.
The other daughter said she’d also seen Fairbanks cover Janna’s face with a pillow to get her to stop crying. On the morning of Janna’s disappearance, she remembered him coming downstairs and got a brief glimpse of the baby’s face, saying her eyes were closed. Fairbanks said he was going for a ride and left.
During an interview on May 29, Fairbanks told investigators he didn’t “remember anything about the last couple of days.” When asked where he left the baby, he said he didn’t know where she was. When asked if he wanted police to find her, Fairbanks said, “I need to know where she’s at. I can’t remember anything.”
He said he didn’t want to go to jail and was “so scared” by what had transpired, court documents said.
“I picked her up and she wasn’t movin’ anymore,” he told the detective. “I wanna get on with my life.”
During a subsequent interview, Fairbanks said he woke up around 5:30 a.m. on May 28 because Janna was crying. He said she drank her milk and he stayed up for a few hours. When he changed her diaper, he put a pillow over her but denied putting any pressure on it.
Investigators searched several landfills for the baby’s remains: the Mount Comfort Station, Southside Landfill on Kentucky Avenue, and Randolph Farms Landfill in Modoc. They recovered several blankets during the search and said Janna’s mother identified one of them as her daughter’s. Search crews didn’t locate the baby’s remains.