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June 25, 2013

Facebook photo

Loh Grenda in a May 2013 Facebook photo.

Stetson father posted fears before toddler found dead

By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Kennebec Journal

STETSON — In the hours leading up to a police investigation into the death of a toddler in Stetson, the child's father was asking friends on Facebook if they knew where his daughter and ex-girlfriend were.

The body of Loh Melody Grenda, who turned 2 in February, was found in her 24-year-old mother's car about 3 a.m. Monday, according to Maine State Police.

The mother, Leanna Norris of Auburn, was hospitalized after the death was reported.

"We're trying to determine the circumstances under which this child died," Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday.

The child's body was discovered in a car parked at a home on Mount Pleasant Road and reported to police, according to McCausland. He would not identify who made the discovery or who lived at the home.

Grenda's aunt, Meghan Grenda-Perron, said it was the home of Norris' parents. Norris had lived in Stetson before moving to Auburn.

Grenda-Perron said that her brother, Michael Grenda -- Loh's father -- was never married to Norris, and that the two recently broke up.

Grenda-Perron, who lives in Vermont, said she does not have much contact with her brother.

She said neither of the toddler's parents is employed.

Michael Grenda's Facebook page has a series of posts beginning about 1:30 a.m. and extending through about 11 a.m. Monday, expressing anger and worry because he didn't know where Norris, who had his daughter, was.

He said he had last seen Loh on Sunday afternoon.

At 3:17 a.m. Monday, he wrote "I have absolutely no idea where my daughter is. That is entirely not okay."

Shortly after that, he wrote, "My little girl is my world."

At 10:24 a.m., he wrote that he had been up all night worrying.

"I actually am genuinely concerned as to the whereabouts of my 2 year old," he wrote.

In another post in the same time period, he indicated that he wanted to gain full custody of his daughter.

After no posts for several hours, he posted that he had learned at about 11 a.m. Monday that his daughter's body had been found. McCausland said the investigation has two concurrent phases.

He said the first entails the medical examiner's conclusion, which "could take some time."

The medical examiner's office has conducted an autopsy, but test results from an out-of-state laboratory will need to be returned before an official report is filed.

In the mean time, McCausland said, "we're interviewing anyone and everyone who might possibly know the dynamics of the relationship between the mother and the daughter."

Grenda-Perron said Norris had a loving relationship with her daughter.

"She's a loving mother. She's a very quiet girl, very shy," she said. "She comes from a wonderful family in Stetson. She loved that little girl. I just don't know what happened."

She described her niece as, "full of life and just a wonderful little girl."

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@centralmaine.com



Facebook photo

Leanna Norris with her daughter Loh Grenda, who was born in 2011.



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