Hours after his 2-week-old daughter was reported missing, Christopher McNabb denied anything had happened to his daughter in an interview with police.
Newton County jurors watched the videotaped interview Thursday, the fourth day of McNabb’s murder trial. He is accused of killing the baby, Caliyah Claire, in October 2017 and hiding her tiny body in nearby woods. The baby’s mother, Cortney Bell, is also accused in the baby’s death.
McNabb told investigators he woke up around 9:30 a.m. Oct. 7 and fed Caliyah. He put her down and she went back to sleep, so McNabb said he returned to the couch and went back to sleep with Bell, according to the video.
The couple then woke up around 10:30 a.m. when their 2-year-old came into the living room crying. McNabb told Deputy Jeff Alexander with the Newton Sheriff’s Office he immediately went into the bedroom where the girls slept.
“The first thing I noticed was she wasn’t there,” McNabb said. “I started tearing the house up. We didn’t hear no crying.”
While Bell called 911, McNabb said he went outside to look for the baby and walked through nearby woods. When deputies arrived at the family’s mobile home, McNabb wasn’t there, but he later returned, according to investigators.
In an interview later that afternoon, McNabb said none of their family members would have taken Caliyah. And though he had no explanation for what happened to the newborn, McNabb was adamant neither he nor Bell were involved with her disappearance.
“I swear to God. Nothing bad happened to that little girl,” McNabb told Alexander. “I did not take my daughter out of that house for any reason whatsoever. Any reason.”
McNabb told the investigator Bell was a good mother and all that happened in the trailer was “regular family living.” But earlier Thursday, Bell’s cousin told the court he’d been at the trailer the night before the baby was reported missing, and he had smoked meth with McNabb and Bell.
Craig Weatherford said he spent about 15 minutes at the trailer on Friday evening. Caliyah was sleeping while he was there, he testified.
“She looked fine. She was sleeping good,” he said.
The following morning, Weatherford got a call that the baby was missing. He returned to the trailer park and called the media, hoping to spread the word about the missing newborn, he told the court.
That night, McNabb and Bell stayed at Weatherford’s home with his fiancee and five kids.
“Chris was my best friend at the time. Me and him was close,” Weatherford said.
But he had a bad feeling that McNabb had been involved with Caliyah’s disappearance. McNabb denied it, Weatherford said.
Weatherford said he returned to the trailer park to help search for the baby. But McNabb and Bell wanted to go to Bell’s mother’s house first, Weatherford said.
“Cortney wanted to get high,” he testified.
Later that day, Oct. 8, Caliyah’s body was found in the woods, about 900 yards from her family’s trailer. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma to the head.
McNabb was charged with Caliyah’s murder days after her body was found. In January 2018, a grand jury indicted him on eight counts, including malice murder, felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. The grand jury indicted Bell on second-degree murder, child cruelty and child deprivation charges. The trial for the two began Monday.
Bell’s interview with police was also played for the jury. She was emotional, telling officers McNabb was a good father. But she had no clues to Caliyah’s whereabouts.
“I just want my baby home,” she said.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Friday.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.