Child's body found in Putnam County

Sanford police search for woman's boyfriend

The body of a missing 2-year-old girl was found in a shallow grave in Putnam County.
The body of a missing 2-year-old girl was found in a shallow grave in Putnam County.

SANFORD, Fla. – The body of a child discovered on Tuesday in Putnam County has been identified as a 2-year-old girl reported missing in Sanford.

Sanford police said 32-year-old Rachel Fryer's 2-year-old daughter's remains were found at 117 Madison Avenue in Putnam County. Police said 2-year-old Tariji Gordan (pictured below) was found in a shallow grave in Crescent City.

"At that location, officers found a shallow grave with a small child's shoe exposed," said Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith.

In the woods nearby, a suitcase was found and is believed to have been used in the crime.

Fryer, a mother of four, turned herself in on Monday night and was arrested on aggravated child neglect charges. She was taken to the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford and was being held on no bond.

Tariji Gordon
Tariji Gordon

Fryer has a 1:30 p.m. first appearance. The Sanford police chief is not calling the missing child case a homicide at this time.

They have not said how the girl died, nor have they given any indication as to how long she was buried at the property.

Neighbors told a local Putnam County newspaper they noticed the Sanford Neighborhood Response Team along with Putnam County deputies stretching yellow crime scene tape around the neighborhood Monday afternoon.

"It's very shocking to know that something like this would take place here," neighbor John Williams said. "Because normally this is a quiet area. Everybody knows everybody. So yeah, very shocking."

The Sanford Police Department continues to search for Timothy Gordon (pictured below), Fryer's boyfriend. Police said a woman named Tonya Grooms, who possibly had information about the missing child, was interviewed, but no further details were released. Neighbors said the missing child was a 2-year-old girl.

Sanford police on Monday said they were notified by the Florida Department of Children and Families to assist with a welfare check on a child living at a house on Oleander Avenue in Sanford.

Photo of Timothy Gordon, provided by Sanford Police Department
Photo of Timothy Gordon, provided by Sanford Police Department

Police said four children were at the home, three of whom were found and placed with foster parents.

The family had been reunified in November and continued to receive regular visits by case managers, according to officials. The last reported visit to the home was documented on Feb. 6, when the DCF caseworker came to check on the family and saw the youngest of the four was missing, then called Sanford police for help.

Anyone with information can call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS. Police said calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips to Crimeline that lead to solving a felony case are eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.