Three-Year-Old Stranded Home Alone After Dad Murdered
By Mike Clary
For nearly 30 hours, a 3-year-old Hollywood, Florida girl visiting her father in Philadelphia huddled alone in his bed and in a closet after finding his bloody, bullet-ridden body in a stairwell.
Armone Stanley, 34, had been ambushed and shot 19 times, just as he and daughter Aryana prepared to leave for Philadelphia International Airport and a flight back to South Florida, according to police.
“She told me he was dead, she saw blood all over and he wouldn’t wake up,” Eloise Bryant, 78, of Fort Lauderdale, the child’s great-grandmother, said.
The girl, on a two-week trip to visit her father, who moved from South Florida two years ago, was discovered curled up in her father’s bed after her worried mother, Anna Cassieri, called the West Philadelphia landlord and asked him to check on Stanley’s apartment.
“She has seen so much,” said Cassieri, 24. “She knows that somebody killed her daddy.”
But the nightmare for Aryana, Cassieri and other relatives did not end there. Once in Philadelphia, child welfare officials permitted Cassieri to see Aryana for just 10 minutes Thursday and two hours Friday.
Citing protocol, officials from Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services said they had to hold the child in protective custody for 72 hours to investigate the case.
When they were forced to part Friday, Cassieri said it was impossible to explain the situation to a traumatized 3-year-old. “I told her I would come back, but she was yelling, kicking and hollering, asking why she couldn’t go with me,” said Cassieri. “I couldn’t explain it. It was heartbreaking.”
Saturday morning, a judge ordered the agency to release Aryana immediately to her mother’s custody.
In a statement, DHS officials said they “fully support” the judge’s decision to return Aryana to her mother, adding that they had kept her in temporary care because of an initial lack of information on her case. “DHS has to take all the facts into consideration in assessing the safety of children in our care,” the statement read.