Toddler Found in Alley May Have Been Dead For Weeks

Police: Toddler found dead in alley not seen alive for months before remains were found

Camden County investigators on Friday publicly identified the boy as Jah’vi Brown, 20 months old. According to detectives, Jah’vi’s skeletal remains were found in an alleyway in the 800 block of Mount Ephraim Avenue in Camden on the afternoon of Oct. 11. 

The boy’s body was found by a passerby, according to Bill Townsend, chief of detectives for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. At the time of the discovery, the body was described as a child believed to be between 13 and 19 months in age and 30 inches tall. 

The remains were taken to the Gloucester County Medical Examiner’s Office and the New Jersey State Police crime lab for testing. 

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Meanwhile, Jah’vi’s father, Anthony Burnett, 25, of Camden, went on Dec. 6 to the Bellmawr Police Department regarding a custody dispute he had with Jah’vi’s mother, Tynaizha Brown, 23, of Bellmawr. Prosecutors said Burnett reported Jah’vi missing that day.

“Prior to Dec. 6, neither parent reported this child missing to the police,” Townsend said during a news conference Friday. “So we’re also asking for the public’s help in identifying when this child was last seen alive.”

Investigation into Jah’vi’s disappearance indicated the last confirmed sighting of the toddler was on Aug. 20, when a representative from another state agency saw the boy alive. Townsend declined to name the state agency. 

Detectives obtained a known sample of Jah’vi’s DNA from his father Dec. 6 and the state police crime lab compared it to that of the child found dead in the Camden alleyway in October. The samples recently came back as a match, Townsend said. 

A 2019 Google Maps image shows the neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey, where the skeletonized remains of 20-month-old Jah’vi Brown were found Oct. 11, 2018, in a trash-strewn alley. The boy, who was not reported missing by his parents until that December, was last seen alive Aug. 20, 2018. Investigators in Camden County used DNA to confirm the identity of the body, which was at the location at which it was found for weeks before a passerby spotted it. 
Photo: Google

No arrests had been made as of Friday. Townsend said the investigation was still “very active” and involved detectives from multiple agencies. 

The detective said Friday that both parents’ failure to report Jah’vi missing until months later “causes (investigators) a little concern.” When asked if Brown and Burnett were cooperating, the detective said they have been interviewed and one of the parents has obtained a lawyer. He did not say which has done so.  

The alley in which Jah’vi was found is in not far from his father’s home, Townsend said. The grassy space, which is too narrow for vehicles, serves as a walkway linking Mount Ephraim Avenue and Haddon Avenue.

“So someone had to carry Jah’vi to that location?” a reporter asked off-camera. 

“Yes, he did not get there by his own will,” Townsend replied. “I can’t get into too many details about how the child was placed, but I can tell you it was not by his own will.”

Watch Friday’s news conference below, courtesy of the Cherry Hill Courier-Post. 

The boy’s manner and cause of death are still pending at the medical examiner’s office, Townsend said. He declined to say if any weapons were found near his body.

The detective also declined to say what, if anything, the toddler was wearing when he was found. 

He reassured the public that there was no evidence in the investigation thus far to indicate Jah’vi died as the result of a stranger abduction. 

Investigators are looking for anyone who may have seen Jah’vi alive after Aug. 20 or who may have information about his death.  

“If anyone, family, friend or neighbor, has any information about Jah’vi, when they last saw him, or any other information that can assist investigators, please contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Matt Barber at 856-225-5166, Camden County Metro Detective Sean Miller at 609-706-6590 or Bellmawr Sergeant Bill Perna at 609-471-1079,” a news release from prosecutors said

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