DFCS opened abuse case day before toddler’s body pulled from Sandy Springs pond

Mother arrested on murder, child cruelty charges

Credit: WSBTV Videos

1-year-old girl dead after being pulled from pond in Sandy Springs

One day before a search crew pulled a lifeless 1-year-old from a murky retention pond at a Sandy Springs office park, child welfare investigators opened a case of suspected abuse against her mother.

The Georgia Division of Family & Children Services confirmed it became involved with Asia Calabrese-Lewis on Wednesday, before police said the mother’s frantic episode Thursday night led them to search for her daughter. Calabrese-Lewis is now facing charges of felony murder and first-degree child cruelty in the death of Nirvana Oliver, who was just shy of 2 years old.

“(This) is the worst part of this job,” Sandy Springs police Sgt. Matthew McGinnis said of finding Oliver’s body. “We all get into policing for a lot of different reasons and none of them are to handle this type of call. But we do our job and we do it as professionally and as best as we can.”

Sandy Springs police first met Calabrese-Lewis and her child Wednesday concerning a wellness check, McGinnis confirmed. At that point, police said no crime had been committed and the “parties were not in any immediate danger, but there appeared to be some family assistance needs.” That led police to make a referral to the DFCS.

A DFCS spokesperson said the agency opened their case and attempted a home visit Thursday.

“This loss is devastating, and our deepest condolences go out to Nirvana’s loved ones,” spokesperson Kylie Winton said.

Asia Calabrese-Lewis is facing charged of murder and child abuse in the death of her 1-year-old daughter, police said.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

icon to expand image

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

On Thursday evening, Sandy Springs police responded to a disturbance call and encountered Calabrese-Lewis in a parking deck on Concourse Parkway near the King and Queen towers, an area between I-285 and Ga. 400 filled with corporate office parks. Calabrese-Lewis was distraught and “having some type of breakdown,” according to McGinnis, who serves as his agency’s spokesperson.

The child’s father then arrived and asked about the toddler.

“At the bottom of the pool,” McGinnis said Calabrese-Lewis responded.

A missing child alert was then issued at 7:20 p.m. as authorities fanned out to begin searching all the bodies of water in the area. The child was eventually found in a narrow pond that is bordered by Concourse Parkway and Peachtree Dunwoody Road.

She was rushed to Children’s Scottish Rite Hospital, but despite first responders performing life-saving measures, she did not survive.

Officials have not said how the girl got to the pond, but McGinnis confirmed the family lives nearby. An autopsy will determine if she died by drowning or by another cause, or if there were any contributing factors.

“We don’t think it is accidental at this time,” McGinnis said while announcing the mother’s arrest Friday morning. She is being held in the Fulton County Jail.

The child’s aunt, Kelsia Oliver, wrote on a public post that the loss is a deep pain that the family is learning to process.

“The unimaginable has happened to my baby brother, and his only baby girl was taken from him,” the aunt wrote. “Nirvana Genesis (Oliver), you are loved, sweet girl. I am so sorry this happened to you. Until we meet again.”

Investigators were still canvassing the area and taking photos Friday afternoon, mainly focusing on the pond’s shoreline. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective J. Pearson at jpearson@sandyspringsga.gov or 770-551-6939.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.