Nalani Johnson’s mother says father threatened violence, according to court papers |

Nalani Johnson’s mother says father threatened violence, according to court papers

Bob Bauder

The father of a toddler found dead Tuesday in an Indiana County park threatened to kill the girl’s mother and himself in April during a domestic argument, according to court documents filed by the girl’s mother.

Investigators found the body of Nalani Johnson on Tuesday afternoon in Pine Ridge Park in Burrell Township. She would have turned 2 on Sept. 15.

Sharena I. Nancy, 25, is charged with kidnapping the girl from Penn Hills and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail. Police have not released a cause of death or charged anyone in connection with the girl’s death. Nancy and the girl’s father, Paul Johnson, were romantically involved, according to police.

Nalani’s mother, Gladys Duarte, 20, of Penn Hills, received a temporary protection from abuse order against Johnson in April from the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

She contended that Johnson on April 14 threatened to kill her and anyone she was with. She also alleged that earlier in the month Johnson put a gun to his head, threatened suicide and “admitted to almost killing my daughter and himself,” according to court records. The girl was in the backseat of a vehicle the three were in during the incident, according to the court document.

Calls seeking comment from Duarte and Johnson were not returned. Taji Johnson, Paul Johnson’s mother and Nalani’s grandmother, declined comment.

Nalani’s body was found in a wooded area behind homes off the eastbound lanes of Route 22 in Pine Ridge Park, according to authorities. The results of Nalani’s autopsy were not yet available, a spokesman for the Indiana County Coroner Jerry Overman said Wednesday.

Jennie Kwisnek lives near where Nalani’s body was found. She said that police had told her husband, Mark, that a car drove between her mobile home and the neighbor’s house before the girl was taken into the woods. Kwisnek said they told investigators they did not see anything different on their property and were not aware that anyone’s car had come onto the property.

“I could not believe it,” Kwisnek said Wednesday.

Kwisnek said that she saw the large police presence along the highway when she came home at 4 p.m. Tuesday and hoped it wasn’t for Nalani.

“I was just hoping it was not here. Who would have known they (someone with the child) would have gone back here,” so far from Pittsburgh, Kwisnek said, referring to the woods behind her home.

The girl’s family told police that Nancy drove away with Nalani at about 5 p.m. Saturday. Nancy was arrested after she was found driving the car described in the abduction, according to police. A baby seat in which Nalani had been riding also was missing from the car when it was found.

According to Allegheny County marriage records, Nancy was married last year on Valentine’s Day to Raihan Uddin, 22. The couple lived in Monroeville and Nancy worked as a driver for ride-share company Lyft. There is no record of divorce in Allegheny County.

Nancy was born in Atlantic City to Bangladeshi parents and had been married one other time, according to the records. Uddin was born in Bangladesh and unemployed at the time of their marriage.

Staff reporter Joe Napsha contributed to this story.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Joe Napsha | Tribune-Review
A memorial to Nalani Johnson rings a tree at the entrance to Pine Ridge Park in Burrell Township on Wednesday, Sept.4, 2019. The memorial is filled with stuffed bears, lambs, flowers, balloons, votive candles, the lyrics of the hymn “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” and plaque with “Love Matters Most” written on it.
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