Mother charged in death of 18-month-old daughter Woman said child had been abducted

September 23, 1992|By Michael James and Roger Twigg | Michael James and Roger Twigg,Staff Writers

A mother who made a public plea for the safe return of her purportedly missing 18-month-old baby has been charged with beating the girl to death and placing her in a trash bag on the porch, authorities said yesterday.

Katrina Grimes, 18, of the 900 block of Brooks Lane was arrested yesterday and charged with first-degree murder as was her boyfriend, Arnett Frazier, 24, of the 2500 block of McCulloh St., police said.

An autopsy determined that the victim, Shelby Marie Smith, had been beaten and strangled.

Clad only in a diaper, the child was found just after 8 a.m. Aug. 24 in two plastic trash bags on the front porch of her home.

Just one day earlier, Ms. Grimes appeared very emotional and agitated on several local television news broadcasts, saying her baby had been abducted by a man who broke into her home in the middle of the night.

According to court records, Ms. Grimes notified police on Aug. 23 that Shelby was missing and that she believed the child had been taken by her father, who no longer lived with Ms. Grimes.

She also showed the investigating police officer a rear dining room window that had been propped open with a wooden stick and said it appeared that whoever took Shelby came in through that window, court records said.

But a crime lab technician found a heavy amount of undisturbed dust on the window ledge, which seemed to indicate that no one had gone in or out through the window, the records said.

The next day, a man not identified by police discovered the baby's body after checking the contents of the plastic bags for what was thought to be trash.

Homicide detectives told family members that they would have to go to police headquarters for questioning, the court statement said.

"When Katrina Grimes heard this, she went to the third floor andwas seen by [a police officer] climbing out of a third-floor window," the statement said. She attempted to flee by climbing down a fire escape but was ordered back into the house, police said.

Both Ms. Grimes' and Mr. Frazier's fingerprints were recovered from the area around the windowledge, the statement said. Mr. Frazier's were found on the plastic trash bags in which Shelby's body was found, court records said.

The baby's slaying created so much emotion in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood that a candlelight prayer vigil and rally was held on Sept. 3. About 50 people -- but not Ms. Grimes -- attended the event, aimed at curbing violence and child abuse in the city.

Mr. Frazier was being held in the Central District lockup awaiting a bail hearing.

Ms. Grimes -- who is being held in the Women's Detention Center -- appeared before a court commissioner yesterday and was ordered held without bond.

She was scheduled to receive a bail review hearing today.

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