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Coroner releases cause in case of girl found in bucket

<i>WDSU via CNN Newsource</i><br/>A manhunt is still on for two young men who broke out of a Louisiana jail after two other escapees were found hiding in a dumpster behind a Dollar General store
WDSU via CNN Newsource
A manhunt is still on for two young men who broke out of a Louisiana jail after two other escapees were found hiding in a dumpster behind a Dollar General store

By Elizabeth Kuebel

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    HARAHAN, Louisiana (WDSU) — A woman who was accused of killing a 6-year-old girl in Harahan before leaving her body in a bucket on the mother’s front lawn has been released from the hospital.

The Jefferson Parish sheriff said Hannah Landon was booked into the jail Thursday morning on charges of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

Landon is being held without bond.

Her arrest comes after the sheriff announced Wednesday that they were investigating a homicide after a 6-year-old girl was found dead in a bucket Wednesday morning.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said Bella Fontenelle’s father reported her and his girlfriend, Hannah Landon, missing to the Harahan Police Department around 7:30 a.m.

Lopinto said the father woke up Wednesday morning and noticed his daughter and girlfriend were missing from his home on Donelon Drive.

According to investigators, his other child was at the home unharmed.

Police immediately began investigating at the father’s home. They eventually went to Fontenelle’s biological mother’s home, which is a street away on Sedgefield Drive.

That is where Lopinto said officers found the little girl’s body. He told WDSU that her remains were inside a 10-gallon bucket on the front lawn.

Investigators began canvassing the neighborhood, where they obtained surveillance video from several homes. The videos show a woman, matching the description of Landon, wheeling a wagon with a large bucket inside to the biological mother’s home.

WDSU was given a copy of some of that surveillance footage and can confirm what investigators say. However, due to the nature of the crime, the station has chosen not to share the video out of respect for the child and families involved.

A search was then launched to find Landon. Lopinto said she was later located at an area hospital, where she was taken into custody.

Investigators said the 43-year-old will be charged with first-degree murder.

Neither of Fontenelle’s biological parents are believed to be involved, Lopinto said.

An autopsy was conducted on Fontenelle Wednesday afternoon, and her cause of death was determined to be strangulation and blunt force trauma.

The coroner said there was no dismemberment.

Newly uncovered court documents show in 2021, a police report lists Landon as the suspect in a Harahan country club incident that led to injuries on the girl’s mother’s face and hand.

Landon was given a summons for simple battery. It’s not clear where that case landed.

However, Landon did file a temporary restraining order against the child’s mother afterward, claiming she feared she would suffer injury, loss or damage.

St. Matthew the Apostle school canceled classes for the rest of the week in response to the crime. In a letter sent to parents, the school confirmed that Fontenelle was a kindergartner there:


“It is with heavy hearts and great sorrow that we write to you. We have been informed by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that a Kindergarten student here at St. Matthew the Apostle was found dead today. Sheriff Lopinto will have a joint press conference with Harahan Police later this evening to share more details and has asked us not to share any further information until then. This is indeed a horrific tragedy that will impact our school and parish community. Because of the very challenging and sensitive nature of the situation and, in order to help our faculty and families in processing this news, we have made the decision to cancel all classes tomorrow, Thursday, April 27 and Friday April 28 . We hope that this will give you parents the opportunity to be with your children.

“For those parents with children in the daycare center, we will be closed tomorrow and reopen on Friday with limited hours of 9:00-3:00.

“The parish and school will explore options for our community to come together in prayer. We will also offer emotional support for our students, faculty and community on Monday when we return to school.

“We have notified our faculty of today’s events but have not shared anything with the students. We delayed this notification in an effort to shield our kids from this tragic news. We feel it is best for them to be with you when the news reaches them.

“In closing, please know that you are in our prayers. We ask you to pray for us and for all those impacted by this tragedy. Let us pray together that the child’s family and that our St. Matthew the Apostle community will feel God’s love and mercy in the midst of this devastating loss.”

The mayor of Harahan also released a statement following the crime, which has rocked the close-knit community. It reads:

“To the Citizens of Harahan,

“As many of you know, there is an ongoing police investigation involving residents of our community – one of which is a young child. Our community prays for all those affected and that they may be comforted by the love and grace of God now and forever.

“I do not have any answers to why this happened. None of us do. Nor will we ever completely know or understand.

“For over 100 years, our small community is and has been based on faith, family, and friendship. It’s what sets us apart. Things like this do not happen in Harahan but today, it did. Quite frankly, over the past five years social media, political and economic uncertainty, civil unrest and COVID have made society more isolated, more divisive, and more on-edge. We are slowly becoming numb to the violence and tragedy we see on the news every evening.

“I ask that each of us look into our hearts, unplug yourself from the world, go outside and talk with your neighbors – like we used to. You might find one that needs help or is going through a rough time. Offer them your support. Instead of complaining about someone’s yard, offer a lending hand to help them out. We need to come together as a community. We need to love those close to us and look out for each other. Now more than ever.”

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