Child’s body found decaying in closet of abandoned DeKalb apartment

Credit: WSBTV Videos

The body of a little girl was found Sunday evening in the closet of a DeKalb County apartment.

Authorities are investigating to determine the nature of the child’s death, and she has yet to be identified. No one knows how her life started, but tragedy marked how it ended: alone in a derelict apartment, obscured by belongings left behind, and forgotten to the point of decay.

According to a police report, around 9 p.m. Sunday, someone called investigators to the Hidden Valley Apartments south of Decatur after discovering the body of what they believed was an elementary-aged girl in the closet of unit 27. The apartment had been vacant for many months, the next-door neighbor told police, but other neighbors said there had been a history of squatters.

Inside a closet, an officer made the grisly discovery. Only visible was a full head of hair, an arm and a leg belonging to a much younger child, the officer said in the report. While her age has not been confirmed, the officer guessed she must have been between 2 and 4 years old.

After trying to get in touch with the 911 caller, the officer realized the cellphone number was no longer in service.

“We are awaiting results of an autopsy to identify the deceased and determine the manner and cause of death,” a spokesperson for DeKalb police said in a statement. “We have nothing further at this time.”

The apartment complex, formerly known as Spring Valley, is located on Misty Waters Drive in the Candler-McAfee area of DeKalb, bordered by I-285 to the east and I-20 to the south. It is among 272 of the metro area’s persistently dangerous complexes, according to an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that looked into serious crimes, lax maintenance and other hazards in Atlanta neighborhoods.

At the four listed addresses within the complex, police reported 56 crimes from 2017-2021. At least three people were killed there since 2017, culminating in a deadly shooting in April 2022.

Other crimes included aggravated assaults and robberies, and one arson. DeKalb listed 12 code complaints, the AJC’s investigation found.

The front door of unit 27 was still boarded up Tuesday, leaving neighbors to guess at what happened within. Residents who spoke with Channel 2 Action News said it had not been empty, with various homeless people coming and going, and no one had heard from the woman who lived there before.

“It’s an atrocity, it really is. It’s a shame that humanity can get that low,” said Catherine Costello, who lives in a neighboring unit. Costello told the news station she had never seen a child there.

In their report, police noted a single clue: a piece of mail found inside the apartment addressed to a woman. No updates on the investigation were provided Wednesday.