Matthew Flugence is behind bars for the murder of 6-year-old Ahlittia North, whose body was found in a trash bin outside a residence in Harvey, a city near New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to CNN, Ahlittia was living with her mother and stepfather for the summer in a two-story apartment, located in the 2900 block of Destrehan Avenue, in the Jefferson Parish community.
Ahlittia, a first-grade student at Donaldsonville Elementary School, would normally live in another home in Donaldsonville, about 60 miles away.
On the night of July 12, 2013, the family returned home from a trip to the grocery store and went to sleep. Ahlittia was laying in her bed, wearing a gray tank top and pink pajama bottoms, but by the next morning, she was gone.
Her stepfather noticed that her toothbrush, toothpaste, and a brown and plaid queen-size blanket were also missing. But the front door was unlocked, and there was no sign of forced entry.
Ahlittia’s mother said she wouldn’t have gone off on her own because she was “afraid of the dark… she wouldn’t just go outside.”
“We started looking through the house and couldn’t find her, so my wife got in the car and started riding around to see if she was with somebody out there we know. And then she started calling other people,” said Ahlittia’s stepfather.
When they were unable to locate her, they called the police and reported Ahlittia missing, which prompted a search by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Kenner Police Department, and the New Orleans Police Department.
Authorities searched nearby wooded areas, alleys, dumpsters, and garbage bins. They also went door-to-door, but there was no trace of Ahlittia.
They did, however, discover a 2-by-3-foot pool of blood behind a building in the 2800 block of Destrehan Avenue.
Detectives collected samples and sent them to the lab for processing. When DNA testing revealed that it was Ahlittia’s blood, they sped up the search.
Crimestoppers Inc. offered a $4,000 reward for information that would lead to Ahlittia’s safe return and an arrest.
When investigators searched for sex offenders who lived near Ahlittia’s apartment, they ascertained that Flugence, the nephew of Ahlittia’s stepfather, was wanted for alleged sexual battery on an 11-year-old girl.
On July 15, Colonel John Fortunato released a photo of Flugence and announced that he was a person of interest in Ahlittia’s disappearance.
In the early hours of July 16, Ahlittia was found dead. Deputies found her decomposing body inside a green trash bin, wrapped in a blanket, at an apartment complex near her home.
Ahlittia loved to sing, make people laugh, and watch Barney. She also loved to dance and had recently joined the Purple Diamonds dance team in Marrero.
Police officials stated that they had previously searched the trash bin where her body was found, but they found no sign that a body had been inside.
It is their conjecture that the killer placed her body in the trash after they executed their search.
When the police notified Ahlittia’s mother that she had been found, she purportedly cried and said, “They could have brought her back home, but they killed her and put her in a trash can.”
An autopsy revealed that Ahlittia had been stabbed four times: twice in the abdomen and twice in the neck.
Jefferson Parish coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said, “It went through the cartilage in her spine to the bone.” They were “very aggressive stab wounds.”
Fortunato stated that he had no reason to believe that Ahlittia’s mother, stepfather, and biological father had anything to do with the child’s disappearance because they took a polygraph test.
On the night of July 16, deputies arrested Flugence, who was armed with a pocket knife, after receiving a tip that a man matching his description was seen walking on Victory Drive in Westwego.
Flugence was charged with one count of first-degree murder.
He was booked into the county jail without incident.
Officials stated that he was also booked for the outstanding warrant on a charge of sexual battery.
Flugence, who was 20 years old at the time, didn’t get a bond. His arrest came hours after the sheriff announced that Flugence was wanted for murder.
The sheriff asserted that Flugence’s brother was arrested after receiving a tip that he didn’t come forward about information he knew about Ahlittia’s case.
He was charged with suspicion of obstructing justice.
During the interrogation, Flugence told detectives that he saw Ahlittia, whom he had previously babysat, outside the apartment complex in the early hours of July 13.
He didn’t immediately admit to kidnapping Ahlittia, nor did he reveal where he kept her before her body was found in the trash bin.
Flugence went on to say that the following day, on July 14, he sexually assaulted Ahlittia after she seduced him.
He said that while they were behind the Harvey apartment buildings, she spread a blanket on the ground and enticed him into having sexual intercourse with her.
Afterward, Flugence said he snapped. He stabbed her multiple times with a pocket knife, and she fell on the blanket, where he watched her die.
It was reported that Ahlittia’s mother was stunned when she found out that her husband’s nephew killed her daughter.
She said, “I don’t understand the reason. To say, ‘I’m just going to kill your daughter?’ I don’t understand.”
He later confessed to kidnapping Ahlittia from her home while her parents were asleep.
In March 2016, Flugence took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to murdering Ahlittia to avoid the death penalty. As part of his plea deal, he waived his right to appeal his conviction.