The hunt for a missing toddler came to a tragic end Friday evening when the child’s body was found inside an alligator’s mouth in Florida.
The father of Taylen Mosley, 2, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder: for the child and for the stabbing death of the boy’s mother, 20-year-old Pashun Jeffery.
St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway said officers were investigating the area of Dell Holmes Park when they spotted an alligator with “an object in its mouth” inside Lake Maggiore.
Officers fired a round at the alligator — killing it — and forcing it to drop the child’s body.
Taylen’s body was retrieved, though police said it’s not yet clear how the boy died or if he was dead before he ended up in the lake.
“We are sorry that it had to end this way,” police Chief Anthony Holloway said.
Police had been searching for Taylen since 2:30 p.m. Thursday, when they found Jeffery dead from “multiple stab wounds” inside her apartment after following a blood trail from her vehicle.
Thomas Mosley, Taylen’s father, was immediately named a person of interest after he checked himself into a local hospital with “cuts to his hands into his arms.”
Police wouldn’t say whether the injuries could have been sustained by Jeffery in self-defense, but Holloway said “nothing in our investigation leads us to believe that he is a victim.”
Mosley — who is still in the hospital — notably checked into the hospital without his son.
The department issued an Amber Alert and launched a major volunteer search for the boy out of extreme concern he was in danger.
Officers deployed dive teams in nearby retention ponds before moving 14 miles north of Taylen and Jeffery’s home, where they ultimately found the boy’s body.
Taylen and Jeffery’s family fondly remembered the pair in the wake of their tragic deaths.
“He’s always calling his mom on his cell phone,” said Lakita Denson told WFLA. “He miss his mom, they calling each other all the time. She really loved Taylen.”
“We just want to say that Taylen is a beautiful little boy,” added Theo Brickhouse-Sails. “He’s really loving and caring.”