Two years after child's body found in suitcase, mother arrested in California

FILE - Kelly Vervillas, of Shepherdsville, Ky. visits the gravesite of the unknown boy who was found in a suitcase in April 2022 in Washington County on June 1, 2022, in Salem, Ind. A boy found dead inside a suitcase last spring in rural southern Indiana has been identified as a 5-year-old from Georgia, and police said Wednesday, Oct. 26, that the child's mother and another woman are suspects in his death. (Matt Stone/Courier Journal via AP, File)
A visitor kneels by the grave of a child whose body was found in a suitcase and buried in Indiana. The child's mother has been arrested in California. (Matt Stone / Louisville Courier Journal / Associated Press)

The mother of a 5-year-old boy, who was found dead in a suitcase nearly two years ago in Indiana, was arrested in Arcadia in connection with his murder, according to authorities.

Dejaune L. Anderson was arrested Thursday by the U.S. Marshals Service on allegations of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and obstruction of justice, Indiana State Police Sgt. Carey Huls told The Times.

Authorities were tipped off by a "concerned citizen," and Anderson was detained while attempting to board a train, Huls said. He declined to specify further how authorities were tipped off.

On April 16, 2022, a man hunting for mushrooms in a wooded, rural area of Washington County, Indiana, found the body of a 5-year-old boy in a brightly colored suitcase, officials said. The boy was identified six months later as Cairo Jordan, an Atlanta resident.

Dejaune Ludie Anderson smiles in a DMV photo.
Dejaune Ludie Anderson in a Georgia DMV photo. (Indiana State Police / AP)

An arrest warrant was issued for Anderson in October 2022, but the boy's mother had been on the run ever since.

Investigators from Sellersburg, Ind., were in Southern California over the weekend to try to speak to Anderson and to continue their investigation, according to Huls. Anderson has a court hearing Monday; the extradition process will depend on how she pleads. If she doesn't fight the extradition, officials from Indiana could pick her up in the next week or two.

"If she fights extradition, then it’ll be at the mercy of California courts for it to play out," Huls said. "A governor's warrant would probably be requested and court system will have to work that out. It'll be at least a month until that process will get started."

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Anderson is originally from the Atlanta area and is not a resident of Indiana, Huls said. She has no known connection to Southern California.

Anderson's friend Dawn Elaine Coleman, 41, of Shreveport, La., was sentenced to 30 years in prison with five years suspended to probation in connection with Cairo's death after reaching a deal with prosecutors in November.

Coleman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, aiding, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and obstruction of justice, according to authorities.

Coleman and Anderson had known each other for about a year and traveled together with Cairo; they had been staying in a residence in Louisville at the time of the boy's death, according to police.

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Coleman told police that she saw Anderson smothering Cairo by sitting on top of him when he was face-down on a bed, according to court records. Coleman said "it was already done" by the time she walked into the room and that Anderson asked her to help put Cairo inside a trash bag and then a suitcase. They drove Cairo's body to Washington County and left him there in the suitcase, she said.

Both Coleman's and Anderson's fingerprints were found on the plastic bags that contained Cairo's body inside the suitcase, investigators said.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Indiana State Police for Anderson’s arrest, Anderson allegedly made references to exorcism and demonic possession regarding her 5-year-old son in Facebook posts in March 2022.

"Can't wait to tell my story: I had to raise my frequency, heal myself and past lives, heal my ancestors, heal s— in the universe, heal Gaia to exorcism a very powerful demonic force from within my son," she wrote, according to the affidavit.

Coleman posted similar messages on Facebook in April 2022, according to the affidavit:

"Just because the avatar is of what we call a child does not mean that it is actually a child there are beings that are here that are not supposed to be here that pick avatars to hide behind to play roles to steal energy and to ruin lives you better check to see if the children that you think are children actually have souls or if they're not melevolent [sic] beings with a soul and in a child Avatar."

The boy died from an electrolyte imbalance most likely due to gastroenteritis, or vomiting and diarrhea that led to dehydration, according to Indiana State Police, citing autopsy results. The boy had died a week before his body was found.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.