The family of a young girl who was strangled, stuffed into a drum of chlorine and dumped on her mother’s lawn have criticized the “senseless and heinous act” that they say destroyed their family forever.
Louisiana authorities found six-year-old Bella Fontnelle dead in the drum outside her mother Jennifer Zeledon’s home in Harahan on Wednesday, just hours after the girl’s father reported her and his girlfriend missing.
Jefferson Parish officials now believe that Hannah Landon, 43, the longtime girlfriend of the girl’s father, Michael, killed Bella in the house she shared with him nearby.
They say Landon placed the body in the 10-gallon chlorine pail and covered it with a lid, which she placed on a wagon intended for a child and pulled over Tuesday night a block away to Zeledon’s house.
Chilling nighttime surveillance footage shows a woman casually dragging a cart with the plastic bucket on it toward the house. The woman in the clip wore high white boots, a red top and black pants.
Landon – who is also credited by Bunnak Lim and Bunnak Landon – has since been arrested on charges of first degree murder and obstruction of justice in Bella’s death, and is being held without bail.
“This senseless and heinous act has destroyed my family forever,” Bella’s aunt Bianca Cano wrote in a statement. GoFundMe for Zeledon, her sister.
“No words can describe the pain that goes through our bodies,” she continued. “It’s really inhumane.”
Bella Fontenelle, 6, was a preschooler at St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic School in River Ridge. Her death has been ruled a homicide
Hannah Landon, 43, has been arrested on suspicion of murdering her boyfriend’s six-year-old daughter, stuffing her body into a chlorine bucket and dumping it at the girl’s mother’s house
Security footage captured a woman – believed to be Landon – pulling the bucket on a wagon meant for a child on the night of April 25
Cano described her young niece as “a wonderful little soul” who was taken away too soon.
“The world is so unjust,” she said in the description of the online fundraiser.
As if speaking to Bella, Cano continued, “You’ve given us six wonderful years. You were beyond perfection.
“Your beautiful little voice, your funny personality, the way you danced, the way you were so delicate and vulnerable, your smile, your laughter, the way you expressed yourself. I could go on and on about how wonderful this little soul was.’
She then went on to “thank everyone again from the bottom of our hearts during these terrible, difficult days.”
“No one should ever have to go through what we are going through (let alone a father and mother having to put a child to rest).”
The GoFundMe has already raised more than $30,000 for the young girl’s funeral expenses.
Bella is pictured at one of her birthday parties dressed as Jasmine from Aladdin
Bella is pictured here blowing out the candles at her third birthday party
Her aunt described her as “a wonderful little soul” who was taken too soon
Authorities say Bella’s father reported his girlfriend and youngest daughter missing around 7:30 a.m. on April 26, prompting a missing persons investigation.
At some point during the search, Harahan police decided to search Jennifer’s property less than two blocks away, where they found the bucket with the body inside.
An autopsy later confirmed that Bella, a kindergarten teacher at St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic School in River Ridge, had been killed with reportedly “multiple injuries.”
Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said the cause of death was “manual strangulation, with blunt force trauma to the head,” FOX 8 reports.
During the ensuing investigation, sheriff’s deputies spoke to friends and neighbors and eventually discovered that Ken Livaudais’ Ring camera caught a woman dragging a car with the plastic bucket on it down the road around 9:35 p.m. Tuesday night.
“Knowing she put a little baby in a bucket makes you physically sick,” he said NOLA. com.
After allegedly dumping the body, authorities say, Landon entered a police station and requested transportation to a local hospital.
She was subsequently located and arrested at the hospital the next day.
A GoFundMe for Bella’s funeral expenses has already raised more than $30,000
Authorities do not believe Bella’s mother or father were involved in her death
Harahan police are here investigating the house in Harahan, Louisiana that Landon shared with Bella’s father
Authorities say Bella’s father called the police station on April 26 to report his youngest daughter and girlfriend were missing
A motive for the murder remains unclear, but police records and divorce papers indicate that Landon and Bella’s mother have had physical altercations in the past.
In 2021, the two women got into a physical fight during a swimming competition for one of the daughters, and the father had to intervene.
Police records obtained by NOLA.com show that Jennifer called the police and told officers that Landon had tried to stop another family member from hugging her daughter.
She said Landon slapped her hand away, grabbed her by the hair and started attacking her.
Jennifer was left with scratches on her face and hand, records show.
The report also says that Landon was “extremely uncooperative” before accusing Bella’s mother of attacking her first.
In the aftermath, Landon obtained a municipal subpoena from Harahan for simple battery, and she filed a restraining order against Bella’s mother, which was later denied.
Several months later, FOX 8 reports, the two women got into another physical altercation during one of the daughters’ soccer games.
However, authorities say they do not believe Bella’s mother or father were involved in her death.
Neighbors and friends have described Bella as a sweet little girl who was extremely kind
Police Chief Ed Lepre says his office is working on justice for the little girl
Neighbors and friends have described Bella as a sweet little girl who was extremely kind.
“She was the first to come up to you and smile and giggle,” said a neighbor.
He and others said Bella could often be seen riding her bike to the nearby shore or playing with her 7-year-old sister.
Now police chief Ed Lepre says his office is working to get justice for the little girl.
“We’re going to work to the end to make sure we get a conviction,” he told FOX 8.
“This is a little baby and any family would be devastated,” he added. “I can only imagine what the mother and father are going through right now.”