NEW ORLEANS — The 6-year-old girl found dead in Harahan Wednesday was beaten and strangled to death, according to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office.
Bella Fontenelle, a kindergartner at St. Matthew the Apostle school, was found dead inside a bucket on her mother's front yard, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.
Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said that a preliminary autopsy shows Bella's cause of death to be "manual strangulation along with blunt force injuries to the head."
"I want to add that Bella’s body was intact and contrary to public speculation, there was no dismemberment of any kind," Cvitanovich said." This is not something we're happy to do. It's something that's hard to see and it's even more hard to unsee."
Police believe the father's girlfriend, 43-year-old Hannah Landon, killed her. She was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a local hospital. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto would not say why she was at the hospital.
Landon was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correction Center on Thursday facing counts of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. On Thursday, a judge determined that she should be held without bond, a spokesperson for the JPSO said.
"Child deaths are always terrible. especially ones like this that should not have happened," Cvitanovich said. "Quite honestly, it's personal for all of us."
Lopinto said Bella Fontenelle's mother and father were both interviewed, and they are not considered suspects in the homicide investigation.