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Mother leaves child to drown in river, charged with murder

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TAMPA, FL (WWSB) - A 4-year-old lost her life after Tampa Police say she was thrown into the Hillsborough River by her own mother.

Police responded to the bridge on West Columbus Drive around 4 p.m. Thursday after witnesses reported seeing a woman wade into the water and throw a child into the river. Authorities say a TPD dive team was on the scene immediately and began a frantic search.

Officers located the child, identified as Je'Hyrah Daniels, around 30 minutes later near North Rome Avenue and West Aileen Street, about 75-feet offshore. The child was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital but was pronounced dead at 4:49 p.m.

The woman who allegedly threw the child into the river has been identified by police as 26-year-old Shakayla Denson. TPD has confirmed that Denson is the child's mother.

In a press conference Friday, Chief of Police Brian Dugan called the incident tragic and unbelievable while giving an update on the investigation.  

"I just want to provide an update on the situation we had yesterday which was quite frankly, tragic, chaotic and unbelievable," said Chief Dugan.  

Tampa police say the investigation has determined that Denson stole a grey Nissan Altima from an auto repair shop before forcefully putting JeHyrah in the back seat. The suspect then parked the car on Rome Avenue just north of Aileen Street at which time, witnesses told police the suspect waded into the Hillsborough River with her child. Once Denson was roughly halfway across the river, she tossed JeHyrah and began wading out.

According to police, Denson was taken into custody a short distance from the scene.

Police say this remains an active investigation. They're speaking to the woman and witnesses to determine a motive.

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