A 38-year-old Washington, D.C. woman now faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the August death of her 2-year-old daughter, Lanoix Andrade, after she lost a custody battle with the girls’s father.
The Virginia Beach Police Department announced Thursday that the murder charge against Leandra Andrade is supported by autopsy findings from the Medical Examiner’s Office, which reportedly showed a toxic level of diphenhydramine in the victim’s system. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine found in Benadryl and like over-the-counter drugs.
Cops said that Lanoix was found dead at the Cutty Sark Motel in the early morning on Aug. 1, which was reportedly the day Andrade was supposed to return the custody of the child to her father, Fabio Andrade.
The Virginian-Pilot reported that the father had been awarded custody of Lanoix following an “arguably contentious divorce and custody hearing” in Washington, D.C. the week prior. The mother reportedly sent dark texts to Fabio Andrade from a motel room in Virginia Beach — such as, “You don’t win,” “It will make you cry yourself to sleep at night,” and “Please believe me” — while urging him not to move forward with divorce proceedings.
Those concerning texts, which reportedly included messages describing the victim in the past tense, led friends and family to contact police.
Cops said that the suspect was found “suffering from a medical emergency” at the crime scene. The Virginian-Pilot report suggested Andrade attempted suicide by taking pills containing diphenydramine (cops said they found two empty pill bottles).
After the suspect was treated at the hospital and released, she was taken into custody on the child abuse and neglect charge. But Andrade’s legal jeopardy has now increased significantly.
“All murder other than aggravated murder and murder in the first degree is murder of the second degree and is punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than forty years,” Virginia law says.
In a statement made back in August, Fabio Andrade explained how Leandra Andrade retained custody of Lanoix despite the adverse ruling against her.
“My daughter Lanoix loved life and live to make her friends and family smile. I am devastated that the opportunity for Lanoix to continue living a happy and loving life was senselessly taken from her,” the statement said. “I have been fighting tirelessly since March of this year for full physical and legal custody in order to provide my daughter the life she deserved.”
“The court ruling last week awarding me temporary sole legal custody was one of several successfully steps toward that goal,” the grieving father continued. “But that ruling did not affect the existing, court-ordered temporary shared physical custody schedule that put Lanoix with her mother last weekend.”
While the defendant’s sister and an attorney both reportedly told a judge that Andrade’s detainment has put up roadblocks in getting her much-needed mental health evaluations, the judge found the “planned and calculated” nature of the alleged crime weighed against allowing bond.
Records reviewed by Law&Crime show Andrade was denied bond in Virginia Beach on Thursday.
[Images via family, Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office]
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