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Mother charged with Erie homicide of 14-month-old girl

Here we go again. 



Published: May 27. 2011 1:30AM


By TIM HAHN, Erie Times-News

The mother of a 14-month-old girl found dead in an eastside neighborhood Tuesday told police that her youngest child had been dead for about a month, according to court paperwork filed in the investigation.


Police said Tania R. Coleman, 20, made the revelation to Erie police detectives hours after her daughter, identified in court records as Alayja Coleman, was found stuffed in a suitcase that had been thrown out as trash.


Tania Coleman remained jailed without bond Thursday on charges of criminal homicide, concealing the death of a child, tampering with or fabricating evidence, endangering the welfare of children and abuse of a corpse. She is separated from the general prison population, according to a prison official.


Police also charged Tania Coleman's boyfriend, Xavier A. Hollamon, 20, with concealing the death of a child, tampering with or fabricating evidence and abuse of a corpse. He remained jailed Thursday on $50,000 bond and is in restricted housing, the prison official said.


Police said Hollamon is the father of Tania Coleman's two other children, a 3-year-old girl and a 2-year-old girl who are now being cared for by family members. The children lived with Tania Coleman in an upstairs apartment at 729 E. Eighth St., while Hollamon lived with his parents at 454 E. 24th St., according to police.


Hollamon is also the father of a child that Tania Coleman is now carrying, police said.


Investigators have declined to comment in detail on what they believe led to Alayja Coleman's death. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said she likely died of "nutritional neglect."


Medical examiners were unable to determine during Wednesday's autopsy if Alayja Coleman had a physical disability, Cook said Thursday. The autopsy also failed to find any obvious signs of trauma on the girl, he said.


Police are still working to obtain the child's medical records, and they are still interviewing people in relation to the case, Erie Police Chief Steve Franklin said Thursday.


Among those already interviewed, Franklin said, was the father of Alayja Coleman, who is identified in court records as Rahsean A. Murphy.


Murphy declined to comment Thursday.


Investigators have not said how long they believe Alayja Coleman was dead before her body was found in a suitcase by Erie firefighters who responded to the 700 block of East Eighth Street to put out a kitchen fire Tuesday afternoon. Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri said only that investigators believe the girl was neglected for "a period of time" and was left to die in the residence.


But according to an affidavit of probable cause filed with a search warrant for Tania Coleman's apartment, she told detectives late Tuesday that Alayja Coleman died in the apartment "approximately one month ago."


Tania Coleman's older brother, Jeffrey Coleman, said Thursday that he had seen Alayja Coleman at his sister's apartment in January and she "looked like a regular, normal baby to me."


Investigators have also not said when they think the child's body was put in the suitcase and placed outside. The affidavit filed with the search warrant stated only that, at some point, the suitcase was placed in a new garbage can, along with two white garbage cans. The can was then placed near the curb.


The next day, a male neighbor, whom police did not identify, saw the can sitting empty and its contents spilled onto the ground. The man moved the garbage can into his residence, according to the affidavit.






Staff writers Gerry Weiss and Lisa Thompson contributed to this report.

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