Nevaeh BuchananNevaeh Buchanan’s Disappearance

On Sunday, May 24, 2009, at around 5:00 pm, Nevaeh Buchanan asked her mom if she could play at a friend’s house. She was five-years-old and wanted to play with her friend Austin, who lived in an apartment above her in the Charlotte Arms Apartment Complex. Nevaeh lived with her mother, Jennifer Buchanan, and her grandmother, Sherry in the two-bedroom apartment in Monroe, Michigan.
Monroe is a small, blue-collared town located south of Detroit. Their apartment butted the playground of an elementary school, separated only by a chain-linked fence. It was Memorial Day weekend, so Neveah didn’t have to get up for pre-school the next morning.

Nevaeh Buchanan Decided to Play Outside

Unbeknownst to her mother, Nevaeh went outside to play after only a few minutes of playing in Austin’s apartment.  She was last seen at 6:30 riding her scooter up and down the parking lot.  At 8:00 pm, as the sun was setting, Jennifer went upstairs to Austin’s apartment to get Nevaeh.  Austin told her that Nevaeh was outside.  When Jennifer went outside to get her, she found Nevaeh’s scooter abandoned in the parking lot.  First Jennifer let the manager know that she was looking for Nevaeh.  Neighbors began helping her search for the missing five-year-old.  They looked at the playground for her, but she was nowhere to be found.

The Search for Nevaeh Begins

Someone eventually called the police and a large-scale search which included K-9 dogs and helicopters began.  By 12:30 am, an Amber Alert was issued.  Despite being an apartment complex filled with people, there were surprisingly few witnesses.  One man, named Tim Finely, reported to police that he left the apartment complex at around 7:00 pm.  When he left he didn’t see Nevaeh outside on her scooter, but he did see a small, red car speed off. Police made two arrests within 24 hours of Nevaeh’s abduction.   George Kennedy, a convicted felon who was believed to be dating Nevaeh’s mother, was arrested for a parole violation on May 25th.  George had a rap sheet that included a 1998 conviction for statutory rape against a person under 16 years of age.  He was arrested and convicted in 2002 for breaking into a home and attempting to sexually assault a 13-year-old.  He pled guilty to the charges and served time in prison.  Rumors have it that Nevaeh referred to George as “Daddy George.”  Her birth father, Shane Hinojosa hadn’t seen her since she was two.

Arrests are Made

roy smith george kennedy The second man arrested that day was George’s friend Roy Lee Smith.  George introduced Roy to Jennifer Buchanan and he spent a lot of time with her and Nevaeh at her apartment.  Like George, Roy was a convicted felon.  He was convicted of rape and spent 15 years in prison for the crime.  He had only been out on parole for a year when Nevaeh disappeared.  Jennifer was criticized for hanging around sex offenders with her young daughter.  In response, Jennifer acknowledged that she was aware of both George and Roy’s criminal history but “believes should get second chances.”  She further defended herself by stating that she never left Nevaeh alone with either man.  At the beginning of the investigation into the kidnapping, both George and Roy looked like excellent suspects.  Especially after police searched George’s van, which was often used by Roy.  In the van, they found a bloody tool.  In the motel George stayed in, investigators found a bloody towel and sexually suggestive photos of young girls.  Over 500 tips poured in the days immediately following Nevaeh’s abduction, but none of them lead to finding the little girl.  As the days went by, hope began to fade that she would be found alive.  In addition, testing of the DNA on the tool and towel showed the blood source did not come from Nevaeh.  There was no evidence linking either man to her abduction.

Finding Nevaeh Buchanan’s Body

On June 5, 10 days after Nevaeh was last seen,  Guy Bickley and his son were fishing up and down River Raisin in Monroe. The area was known to locals as a popular fishing spot.  After about two hours, Guy smelled something foul.  The smell became overwhelming.  Then he noticed a block of cement and it had a strange outline to it.  As a got closer to the cement the smell grew stronger and it appeared to have something encased in it.  He kicked the block with his foot and pieces of concrete broke off.  Ryan and Guy could see what looked like human skin in the concrete. 

The Crime Scene

Nevaeh Buchanan When the police got there they examined the scene.  The cement blocked was located about three feet away from the river.  Mossy mud was on top of it.  In digging up the block, they found the body of Nevaeh Buchanan encased in it.  Later, they determined her killer had incorrectly mixed the cement.  As a result, as it hardened, Nevaeh’s body floated towards the top of the cement, leaving an imprint of her body on the surface.  Nevaeh was found wearing the clothes she disappeared in with no outside signs of abuse or violence.  Hair strands of Nevaeh were found in the mud above the concrete and a Busch beer can was located either in the concrete or near it. It took almost a month for the autopsy report to be completed.  The results indicated that Nevaeh’s cause of death was asphyxiation.  Her face had been pushed in the mud, and based on the concrete imprint, she struggled with her as he poured the concrete on her.    Her nose, windpipe, and lungs were filled with dirt.  Authorities didn’t say whether or not Nevaeh was sexually assaulted.  According to Reddit, comments, Nevaeh wasn’t raped but brought to the River Raisin to be murdered.  Nevaeh Buchanan was buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery.  Hundreds of people attended her funeral and released balloons. Surprisingly, after her body was found, the case seemed to fizzle out.  Years went by with the police releasing no information or updates to the public.  The community continued to honor Nevaeh’s memory by holding marches, donations, and drives in her name.  A group called Justice for Nevaeh led most of these events. 

Updates on Nevaeh Buchanan’s Murder

After almost five years, the police released some updates in 2014 about Nevaeh Buchanan’s murder.  They stated that they have a new person of interest and it is neither George Kennedy nor Roy Lee Smith.  Although they wouldn’t release the suspect’s name, they did say that as of 2014, he was in his mid-30’s, serving 10 years for domestic violence, and was born in raised in the Monroe, Michigan area.  In addition, this man was a troubled child who came from a dysfunctional family.  He was repeatedly suspended from school and eventually expelled; he never graduated from high school.

Who killed Nevaeh Buchanan?

Jennifer BuchananSince 2014, there have been no updates on who killed Nevaeh Buchanan.  As of November of 2020, her case remains unsolved.
Read more

Similar Crimes and Consequences True Crime Podcast Episodes: