Father charged with killing missing toddler found in harbor

Editorís Note: It was reported that Ryan Lawrence was to appear in court this morning for the purposes of arraignment. Evesun.com will be updated as more information is released regarding his court appearance and memorials for Maddox in Syracuse and the surrounding areas.

(AP) ‐ A toddler who disappeared over the weekend was found dead in a harbor on Tuesday, and her father, who had been picked up a day earlier wearing a disguise, was charged with her murder, police said.

An emergency call late Saturday night from the mother of 21-month-old Maddox Lawrence led to an Amber Alert and a search for her, Syracuse police Chief Frank Fowler said. Maddox was believed to have been with her father, Ryan Lawrence.

Maddox's mother, Morgan Lawrence, told police that Ryan Lawrence was supposed to pick her up from her job at the Destiny USA shopping mall but instead left the car and keys for her in a parking lot.

When the mother returned home, she said, she found a message from him that indicated he might harm Maddox and himself. She called police, touching off Sunday's Amber Alert, a massive search and pleas for tips from the public.

On Monday, police got a call from a thrift shop employee who recognized Ryan Lawrence when he went into the shop in Baldwinsville, 10 miles northwest of Syracuse, authorities said. Police found Lawrence walking on a nearby street, wearing a disguise, and took him into custody, they said.

"The person making that phone call was instrumental in bringing this case to where we are today," Fowler said Tuesday.

After interviewing Lawrence, police focused their search for Maddox on Syracuse's Inner Harbor, an inlet off the end of Onondaga Lake. State police divers found her body underwater along the Creekwalk, a biking and hiking pathway.

Investigators were awaiting the results of DNA testing but were confident the body was Maddox's, Fowler said.

Lawrence was sent to the Onondaga County jail to await arraignment Wednesday morning on second-degree murder charges, Fowler said.

Fowler said the investigation into Maddox's disappearance and death was continuing, and few details were released.

"This is a tough one on all of us," he said.

A prosecutor says a man charged in the slaying of his 21-month-old daughter likely killed the toddler on New York state-owned forestland outside Syracuse before returning to the city and dumping her body in a creek.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says it's believed 24-year-old Ryan Lawrence killed his daughter Maddox last weekend at the Labrador Hollow Unique Area on the Onondaga-Cortland county line, 15 miles south of Syracuse.

State police divers found the child's body Tuesday in Onondaga Creek, which flows into Onondaga Lake through Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

Lawrence was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder. Police say they don't have a motive for the slaying.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Maddox on Sunday, after Lawrence disappeared with the girl.

Lawrence is being held in jail. Information on his lawyer wasn't immediately available.

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