Police on Tuesday charged a Bessemer City man with first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.
Gaston County Police Chief Joseph Ramey said police found the remains of Jordan Ann Dumont at about 11 a.m. 500 to 750 yards from her home in the 1900 block of Bess Town Road, near Ruthaven Drive, in Bessemer City.
Billy Joseph McCullen, 25, was arrested without incident at about 1 p.m., the chief said. McCullen was jailed without bail.
Jordan died before her body was taken to where police found her remains, Ramey said at an afternoon news conference. He declined to say how police believe Jordan died or what led them to charge McCullen, who also lives at the home.
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McCullen called 911 at about 3:30 p.m. Monday to report Jordan missing, Ramey said. McCullen told the 911 dispatcher that he’d fallen asleep and woke up two hours later to find a door open and Jordan gone, according to the chief.
That led to a “massive search” for the toddler by various agencies and numerous community volunteers, Ramey said. Police released a description of Jordan in hopes someone saw her: white, 3-feet-2-inches tall, shoulder-length curly blonde hair and blue-green eyes.
After Jordan’s remains were found, Ramey addressed a crowd of searchers: “It’s with great sadness that I let you know we have located human remains, and we are working to recover those. The family has been notified. We have not made positive ID, but we are working to make that through the rest of the day.”
He thanked volunteers on site who assisted in the search, which drew national media attention. “It’s what community’s all about. We didn’t get the outcome that we wanted. But again, I appreciate your coming out, your time, your energy for the last three or four hours.”
“It breaks my heart,” volunteer Wendy Ramsey said as she fought tears after the chief’s announcement. “I’m glad she was found so they can be at peace and know what happened to her. But I was hoping they would find her alive.”
In a statement later Tuesday, police said the FBI’s Evidence Response Team was assisting the Gaston County Police Department with recovering the remains, which appear to be Jordan’s. “Tests will need to be conducted by the medical examiner’s office to determine a positive identification of the remains as well as the cause of death,” the police statement said.
Ramey, meanwhile, said police responded to 49 calls at the home over the past three years, from “noise disturbances to domestic to theft.” He didn’t know if any of the calls regarded child abuse.
Another child who lives in the home is safe with the Department of Social Services or the child’s mother, the chief said.
Court records show McCullen was found guilty of driving while impaired in 2010 and four misdemeanor marijuana and other drug counts from 2008 through 2011.
Police said their investigation is ongoing as they try to determine the exact timeline of events leading to Jordan’s death. Police asked anyone with information about the case, including McCullen’s whereabouts from Monday onward, to call the Gaston County Police Department at 704-866-3320 or Crime Stoppers at 704-861-8000.
Observer videographer Davie Hinshaw contributed.