WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WXIN) — For six months, a boy found dead inside a suitcase dumped on the side of a road in southern Indiana remained nameless.
On Wednesday, Indiana State Police revealed that they’ve identified the child as 5-year-old Cairo Ammar Jordan of Atlanta, Georgia, putting an end to the months-long mystery.
Cairo’s paternal grandparents and great uncle told FOX59 their family just learned the news one day before the announcement was made. They call Cairo a “sweet boy” who would have turned six this week.
“It hasn’t even been a full 24 hours and yet, it still hasn’t really sunken in,” said Andrew Mayo, Cairo’s great uncle.
The boy’s body was discovered on April 16 by a mushroom hunter. Investigators said he was found inside a Las Vegas-themed hard-shell suitcase approximately 80 feet off a dead-end road in rural Washington County.
ISP had previously said the body was that of a Black child who was approximately 5 years old with a slim build and short hair. In May, an autopsy found he died due to “electrolyte imbalance” most likely from a “viral gastroenteritis.”
According to an autopsy report, there was a lack of significant traumatic injuries and no “anatomical cause of death.” Toxicology results came back negative.
As investigators searched for answers on the identity of the child, community members held vigils and a memorial service to honor the then-unnamed boy. He was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Salem with a marker that bears the inscription, “In loving memory of a beloved little boy known but to God. Asleep in the arms of Jesus.”
“To know that it’s been six months, to read these articles, to see the people come through in a different state that didn’t know him from a can of paint, it shows what humanity really is,” said Mayo.
“We definitely want to thank the people in Indiana who did give him a proper burial. That was so nice of them and we appreciate that,” said Kimberly Jordan, Cairo’s paternal grandmother.
The boy’s family on his father’s side also wanted to thank investigators for their diligence on the case and never giving up on finding out who Cairo was.
ISP said the boy had never been reported missing and was not in a national database, which slowed the investigation into the case. Despite thousands of tips received after setting up a hotline to generate leads into the child’s identity, investigators said it was fingerprints that provided the significant break in the investigation.
According to police, forensic scientists obtained fingerprint matches from two people on trash bags found with the suitcase.
Police said one person, 40-year-old Dawn Elaine Coleman, was arrested in San Francisco in connection to the investigation. Coleman’s relationship to Cairo isn’t clear through court documents.
A second person, the boy’s mother, 37-year-old Dejaune Ludie Anderson, from Georgia, remains at large. Attempts to locate her have been unsuccessful so far, authorities said.
Family members told FOX59 they didn’t report him missing because they didn’t know Cairo was in any danger. They claim his mother had custody of Cairo and hadn’t brought him around in several years, despite attempts to connect with her.
“We were in contact with her mother at one point and usually her mother would come by here periodically and we would ask where Dejaune is and a lot of times her mother didn’t know, at least she told us she didn’t know where she was. I knew that she had told me at one point she had told me she had been in Las Vegas, but she’s also been a lot of places we had no clue she could have gone to,” said Kimberly.
Kimberly said her son wanted a joint custody agreement so that he could see Cairo.
“The next thing I know, she disappeared. I did not think that it was uncommon at the time because she’s always moving around. She’s never in one spot, so she didn’t have an address to where we could actually go to besides her mother’s house,” said Kimberly. “When he did do that, she attempted to call the police on him, made it very difficult for my son to see his child, to the point where he thought he had to go through the courts to do so.”
Family also said there were no major red flags about Anderson that would have given them any indication, despite silence, that Cairo’s welfare was at risk.
“Had we known, we would have been happy to take him and bring him home with us. There would have never been any issues, no questions asked. We would have taken him,” said Kimberly.
Family said they wish they could have helped before it was too late.
“She didn’t show no signs of being a bad mother that I see,” said Vincent Jordan, Cairo’s paternal grandfather. “For this to happen, it kind of blows your mind. She seemed like she was a good mother.”
Kimberly told FOX59 that Anderson had another son, which is another reason they didn’t have any reason to believe anything bad was going on.
“Although she didn’t have custody of him, she made sure she fulfilled his every wish. She called him every day, talked to him on the phone. They went and did things together. She was very good with her other son,” said Kimberly. “We had no idea that this could have ever been in the back of her mind, even the thoughts that I’ve heard about, he was a demon. She didn’t come across with us as being a worshipper or anything dealing with evil or witchcraft or anything like that.”
Anderson, who is wanted on a murder warrant in connection to her son’s death, indicated through a series of social media posts that she believed a demon lived inside him, court records showed.
Transcripts of social media posts said Anderson wrote on Facebook and Twitter between December 2021 and April 2022, sharing that she believed her son needed to be exorcised or killed.
She wrote of hexes and curses, “protection spells” and “reversal spells,” according to court documents. In a Jan. 5, 2022, post, she wrote, “I’m using my blood for this ritual.”
Cairo’s uncle said he wishes that anyone who was friends with Anderson on social media and saw any red flags would have alerted someone. He calls Cairo’s death ‘preventable.’
“It takes one person, and I’ve done it before and reached out to people that I associate with on social media, that I’m here. I may not always get a response back, but it’s the fact that I attempted to say, ‘even though we’re not that close, I see what you’re going through, so if you need anything or to talk, I can help you in that way,'” said Mayo.
“That could have saved Cairo, that could have saved his mom, we could have brought him back to Georgia, we could have helped him in whatever way needed, but the thing is, if she didn’t ask for it, it’s more like she ran from all her problems. Your problems can be solved if you ask for help. Now we’re a family member short,” said Mayo.
“Keep your eye out if you see someone who is in trouble. Say something, don’t walk away. That might mean life or death,” said Kimberly.
Family said they remember Cairo as a happy child, who loved playing with dinosaurs when he was younger.
“I don’t think he had a lot of kids to play with around him. I wish he could have had a chance to meet his cousins and his aunts and uncles, but we didn’t get a chance to get that far,” said Kimberly. “I would have wanted to know what kind of person he would have come to be. What he’d look like when he’s 15, 20. There’s a lot of things that we’re going to miss.”
Family shared they were hoping to see Cairo grow up someday to be a football player, like his dad was, or be able to go hunting with his grandfather.
“It’s one of things you kind of pass down. You want to see your son do what you do and teach them things that you want to teach them, and it was cut short,” said Mayo.
Cairo’s paternal grandparents said he leaves behind several siblings he never got a chance to know well.
“He has siblings, brothers and sisters, that didn’t really get a chance to know him; that won’t get to know him,” said Mayo. “No parent should have to bury a child, especially not at this age.”
Investigators learned Anderson had previous run-ins with the law, including an arrest on a child endangerment charge in South Carolina. She’d led police on a chase in March, going 92 mph in a 60-mph zone with Cairo in the car, according to court documents. Coleman, who is under arrest in connection to this case, was with them.