Important Notice: This page only contains basic information that publically available, to view my work on the case during for this year please follow this link.
Lauryn lived with her three-year-old brother and their 19-year-old mother, Shakara Dickens, at the Raleigh Village Apartments in the 4900 block of Yale Road in Memphis, Tennessee at the time of her disappearance. Shakara stated that at 11:00 a.m. on September 7, 2010, she gave Lauryn to a strange woman who claimed to be a friend of Lauryn's father, Benjamin Norfleet, who was in jail at the time. Photos of Lauryn's parents are posted below this case summary.
Shakara aid the woman came to her because she'd told Norfleet she could no longer care for Lauryn. The woman said she would take care of Lauryn until Norfleet was released from jail. Shakara described the woman as White, with shoulder-length straight gray hair parted in the center. She was in her forties and had glasses. She wore a white button-down blouse, khaki capri pants and white closed-toe sandals. Shakara gave Lauryn to the woman without asking for any contact information or even the woman's name. She said she never saw Lauryn or the woman again.
Cadaver dogs indicated the presence of human remains in Lauryn and Shakara's apartment and in the car Shakara drove. A week after Shakara reported Lauryn's disappearance, she was charged with aggravated child neglect, child endangerment and false reporting. Court documents stated the police believed Lauryn was deceased. In January 2011, Shakara was charged with first-degree murder.
At Shakara's trial in March 2012, Tracey, Norfleet and a cellmate of hers were some of the witnesses who testified against her. The cellmate claimed Shakara broke down during a religious sermon in jail and said "God would not forgive me for what I've done" and that she had done "what I was in for." Authorities also found a poem she had written in her cell which they characterized as an admission of guilt. Shakara's defense attorney argued that there was a total lack of physical evidence and insufficient proof that she had harmed or killed her baby. She was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, second-degree murder, child neglect and filing a false report. She had no prior convictions.
In June 2012, as part of an agreement with prosecutors, Shakara admitted her guilt in Lauryn's death. She stated she smothered the baby because she was frustrated by her crying, then put her body in a trash bin, which was emptied a few days later. She said she was stressed at the time because her work hours had changed and she couldn't find a babysitter, and expressed remorse for her actions. Shakara was sentenced to nineteen years in prison. She could have faced up to fifty-four years.
Lauryn's body has never been located. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
Left: Shakara Dickens in 2010;
Center: Shakara in 2012;
Right: Benjamin Norfleet