VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The mother of a 2-year-old girl found dead in a Virginia Beach hotel room is now facing charges. Officials have said that they are investigating the toddler's death as suspicious.
The Virginia Beach judge arraigned Leandra Andrade, from Northeast, D.C., on a class four felony charge related to child neglect and abuse.
Officials with the Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney's Office confirmed to WUSA9 sister-station 13 News Now that Andrade is the same woman connected to the death at the oceanfront. She was found having a medical emergency in the same room as the child's dead body, according to police, who say this all occurred in the 3600 block of Atlantic Avenue.
MPD confirmed the Virginia Beach case and the D.C. court proceedings are linked, and said Andrade had not been seen since Friday, but noted a missing person report was never filed. Court documents show that's the same day she lost a custody battle.
Court documents filed in D.C. Superior Court Friday show a judge had just awarded Andrade’s partner, Fabio Andrade, temporary legal custody of their daughter. However, Leandra Andrade, who was listed as the defendant in the case, still received joint physical custody of the child with Fabio Andrade.
“The court reiterates that this temporary custody order, issued following the pendente lite evidentiary hearing, is temporary and will be revisited as the case progresses,” the court document reads.
Divorce attorney Reza Golesorkhi represented Leandra Andrade during those custody proceedings. He said he has not had any contact with Leandra Andrade or her family since the court hearing last week. However, Golesorkhi added that he and others were aware Leandra Andrade was to have physical custody of the couple’s daughter last weekend.
Leandra and Fabio Andrade are still married but they separated months ago.
"My daughter, Lanoix, lived life and loved to make her friends and family smile," Fabio Andrade said in a statement to WUSA9. “I have been fighting tirelessly since March of this year for full physical and legal custody in order to provide my daughter the life she deserved.”
According to the arrest warrant, Leandra Andrade is accused of causing or permitting serious injury to the life of a child by willful act, or refusal to provide necessary care.
A judge set a bond hearing for Thursday morning. The girl’s name and cause of death have not yet been revealed.
Neighbors in the Northeast, D.C. community where Leandra Andrade lived said they were shocked when they heard the news, saying the allegations against her are a far cry from the woman they know.
"When you saw her on the outside, it seems she would never do anything to her child, she loved her baby," neighbor Aaron Holloway said. "I saw her last week when I saw her walking with her father and his father and she was walking and she was big oh my gosh she looks so good."
Holloway said he knew her husband had moved out recently, but said the neighbors felt like something was wrong.
"She looked frail," he said. "Like something was going on mentally to me that's not her she'd always be on the move."
Police only found out about Leandra Andrade's whereabouts in Virginia Beach after a friend contacted them over recent concerning social media posts, including a Facebook post in March where she accused her husband of blocking communication with her.