MILWAUKEE – A nationwide search has been launched for 2-year-old girl who officials Friday characterized as an innocent child caught in the intersecting worlds of violence and human trafficking.
The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the location of Noelani Noelani, who was reportedly abducted after her mother was shot to death by her former pimp, who is also the toddler’s father, police said.
“We are seeking help from the entire nation,” Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said at a news conference Friday announcing the reward.
Dariaz L. Higgins, 34, is accused of fatally shooting Sierra M. Robinson, 24, and wounding another woman shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, according to a criminal complaint and Milwaukee police.
An Amber Alert from the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network was issued for Noelani on Monday night stating she was last seen about 1:30 p.m. Monday with Higgins.
Higgins was arrested Wednesday but has since provided police with false information about his daughter’s whereabouts, Morales said.
“The suspect is a cold-blooded killer and our search to find Noelani has become a game to him,” the chief said. “It’s obvious that as a parent he truly doesn’t care about Noelani.”
‘Textbook definition’ of human traffickers
Morales said Higgins is the “textbook definition” of the kind of individuals law enforcement is confronting when battling human trafficking, urging anyone who is harboring Noelani to drop the child off at a safe place like a hospital, police station, school or church.
“If you release Noelani now and she is not harmed, you will likely not be prosecuted,” Morales said.
“However, if you continue to hold Noelani in your possession,we’ll eventually find you and her and you will be prosecuted to the highest degree of the law.”
A criminal complaint issued Tuesday charging Higgins with killing Noelani’s mother revealed that Sierra Robinson had come to Milwaukee from Las Vegas to retrieve the child from Higgins, who had been staying in Miami.
According to the complaint charging Higgins with first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety:
The woman who was wounded in the shooting told police that Higgins is her and Robinson’s former pimp and the father of Noelani.
She said Robinson and Higgins stayed together after Robinson became pregnant but that Robinson broke off the relationship in February and moved to Las Vegas, leaving Noelani with Higgins.
The woman said Higgins was living in Miami when he agreed to meet Robinson in Milwaukee to return the child to her, and the two women met Higgins on Monday.
The child was not with Higgins, and while driving around the three talked about old times and smoked marijuana.
Higgins gave the women an ecstasy pill, which they split, and he and Robinson agreed that they should get back together, according to the woman, who said she noticed a small firearm in the SUV they were riding in.
Higgins eventually drove to an apartment building where he said Noelani was.
But when the three got out of the SUV, Higgins shot the women multiple times, according to the complaint, which does not indicate from where Noelani was abducted.
Higgins and another person were taken into custody shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Girl’s mother had no ID
Milwaukee Police Capt. Thomas Casper, head of the department’s homicide division, said Sierra Robinson had no identification on her when she was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.
Her fingerprints were not on file locally and investigators had to contact law enforcement agencies in other states and resort to social media to determine her identification and finally locate her family in Oklahoma.
“There was a mad scramble to identify this victim, find her family, find out if she really had children, get names, get photographs,” Casper said.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm asked anybody who knows anybody involved with Higgins, Sierra Robinson or the wounded woman to contact authorities and share any information they have about them.
“You might not think it’s important information, you might not think it’s relevant, please provide it to us and let us determine that,” Chisholm said.
“Our only interest here is to locate that little girl, make sure she’s safe and return her to her family.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett also noted the vulnerability of Noelani to the dangers of the world she was born into.
“This is about the horrible intersection between human trafficking, violence and a little girl,” Barrett said.
Morales would not disclose whether Noelani’s custody status or location before Monday had been established, only that she was seen before her mother was killed, though he could not say where or when.
“The world that these individuals lived in, they traveled throughout numerous states,” Morales said.
“That’s why we’re asking the nation for help.”
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