CHESTERFIELD, SC — Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks said it did not take long for authorities to determine that Breena Lewis’ story about the abduction of her 11-month-old baby was riddled with inconsistencies.
But it may be some time before investigators figure out how and why the child died.
“How do you put a dead child in a garbage bag and just throw it away?” Brooks asked during a Thursday morning press conference on the death of Harlee, whose mother, 19-year-old Breanna Lewis, is accused of putting the baby’s body in the woods and making up a story about the girl being abducted by a man who assaulted Lewis.
Lewis, a former Laurinburg resident, has been charged with felony giving false information to law enforcement, desecration or removal of human remains and destroying, altering, concealing or tampering with physical evidence in connection with the body of her child.
Brooks said that deputies were dispatched to Lewis’ home on Daisy Lewis Lane at 1:39 p.m. Tuesday concerning a possible kidnapping.
The mother told dispatchers that the suspect “pulled up next to the mail box at the end of her driveway, got out and made sexual advances on her and started hitting her in the face causing her to fall down and almost pass out,” according to the sheriff’s report.
Deputies responded to the home from different directions in the hope of intercepting the attacker. Authorities also alerted Anson County Sheriff’s Office because Lewis said the man fled in the direction of North Carolina.
Chesterfield is approximately 19 miles from Wadesboro.
Lewis later told deputies that someone from Laurinburg was involved.
“We began to alert officers in the area of Laurinburg about the vehicle BOLO [Be on the lookout] that was given out,” the report said.
The investigators began to suspect that Lewis was lying about the abduction and called off the Amber Alert.
“She seemed to be an emotional wreck which could have been from the kidnapping,” Brooks said. “But then as she told the story again and again, it began to unravel.”
Baby Harlee was later found dead wrapped in a plastic bag in a diaper box 1,000 yards from Lewis’ home.
Investigators said that Lewis later admitted to lying about the assault and abduction.
“The bruising on her face was the result of a recent automobile accident,” Brooks said. “Breanne Lewis has stated traumatic experiences cause her to black out, and claims to have no recollection of when or how her child went missing.”
The autopsy of the child has been completed, but the results will be released to the State Law Enforcement Division. According to media reports, there were no signs of trauma on the child and it will be days before all lab tests results are known.
Brooks said the child slept in a crib in a house full of toys, blankets and sheets and suggested suffocation as one explanation for her death.
Brooks said there were concerned about the child being small for her age, and a lack of child-appropriate food that was in the house, so they were going to go back to the home with a Department of Social Services caseworker to investigate.
Lewis is being held in the Chesterfield County Detention Center under a $71,000 bond.
Lewis, who attended Scotland High School in 2013 and recently worked in Laurinburg, does not have a previous criminal record in South Carolina, according to law enforcement.
There will be a candlelight service for the child on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Chesterfield courthouse on Main Street. The public is invited to attend.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office at 843-623-2101.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169