A twisted Florida mother who drove for days with her daughter’s body stashed in a pickup truck after scouring the internet for “alligator ponds” has been sentenced to life in prison.
Erica T. Newsome, 41, of Jacksonville, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the 2017 death of her 11-year-old daughter, Kaye-lea Plummer, the Florida Times-Union reported.
Newsome told authorities she strangled and beat her daughter, who investigators believe died on Aug. 4, 2017. The girl’s body was discovered beneath a blanket two days later when Newsome’s truck slammed into a highway guardrail in Thornwood, West Virginia, state police said at the time.
An initial investigation revealed Kaye-lea had died prior to the crash, authorities said. A couple from New York City spotted Newsome dragging the girl’s body while wrapped in a blanket from her truck and over a hill, the Pocahontas Times reported in 2017.
Newsome later admitted to cops she abused her daughter and had killed her. The woman said she picked up Kaye-lea from her bed for a drive to Buffalo, New York, where the girl’s father lived, the newspaper reported.
Newsome told cops her daughter did not move, eat, drink, speak or go to the bathroom during the two-day drive from their Jacksonville home to Thornwood, West Virginia. A coroner later determined Kay-lea had been dead for at least 24 hours prior to her body being discovered, according to the Pocahontas Times.
Prior to leaving for Buffalo, Newsome used her cellphone to search the internet for “alligator ponds,” fatal bridge accidents and Virginia highways with “huge cliffs,” an arrest report shows.
A medical examiner in West Virginia found Kay-lea had multiple injuries throughout her body consistent with aggravated child abuse, including wounds to her head, torso and extremities, WJXT reported.
Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect as Newsome pleaded guilty to murdering her daughter, court records cited by the Times-Union show.