Woman is arrested after missing 1-year-old is found dead

Marquita Burch (Source: Cincinnati Police Department)
Marquita Burch (Source: Cincinnati Police Department)

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - What began as a missing child case in the City Heights area of Covington on Friday night has become a murder case in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Police say Marquita Burch has been arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in connection with the case of 1-year-old William Cunningham. Burch reported Cunningham missing prompting a five hour search by neighbors, police and fire fighters.  However, during questioning police after found discrepancies in her story. Burch then recanted her story, telling Covington detectives that Cunningham died in Cincinnati on Sheehan Avenue in Hartwell.

A Covington woman who joined the search, but doesn't want to be identified says she furious and calls Burch a "sick, sick individual."

The woman says Burch, who relatives of the baby used to call a trusted family friend, was supposed to be babysitting William and even joined in the search.  "She combed these hills, the trails with us crying out William's name. I mean we had senior citizens out here trying to comb these woods looking for William," said the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Sam Johnson who also lives in City Heights says police were going door-to-door looking for the baby who was called Little Will. "The cops come knocking on the door. I guess they was the cops or the SWAT team or something and they showed me a picture of the little baby and I said no I never seen him," said Johnson.

Burch then directed Cincinnati homicide detectives to an apartment on Winton Road where she had taken the body. Cunningham's body was found in a hall closet within the apartment. Family members tell FOX19 that Burch was Cunningham's babysitter.

Covington says this is now Cincinnati's case, since the boy not only was found there, but it appears he died in Cincinnati as well.

Friday night William Cunningham was reported as last seen near an apartment complex on Welsh Drive.   That's off Benton Road in the City Heights neighborhood off Highland Avenue.

Residents of City Heights, like Tim Leffler, are now nervous about their children's safety. Leffler says "Everybody right now, they're just keeping, everybody's keeping an eye on everybody else's kids, and you know, now days, like I said now days you don't know what's going to happen with the kids out running around somebody could snatch them up and do whatever to them you know," said Leffler. 

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040. Callers may remain anonymous and may receive cash for clues.

FOX19 will continue with updates as more information becomes available.

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