N.Y. Woman Charged with Beating 5-Year-Old Daughter to Death and Hiding Her Body

Latasha Mott of Syracuse pleaded not guilty to the charges in court and is currently being held in the Onondaga County Justice Center

<p>NewsChannel 9 WSYR Syracuse/YouTube</p> Area being searched by police

NewsChannel 9 WSYR Syracuse/YouTube

Area being searched by police

Police in New York were searching for the body of a 5-year-old girl while her mother was arraigned in court on charges related to her death.

Latasha Mott, 29, was charged with first degree manslaughter and concealment of a corpse in Syracuse City Court on Monday, the Associated Press, Post-Standard of Syracuse and ABC affiliate WSYR-TV reported. She pleaded not guilty in response.

According to court documents obtained by the Post-Standard and WSYR-TV, prosecutors allege that Mott hit her daughter — identified as Nefertiti Harris — with a belt multiple times while she was in the shower of their apartment back in January.

Prosecutors claimed Harris died as a result of the beating and that Mott “intentionally” hid the child’s body in “a wooded area,” the outlets reported, per the court docs.

On Monday, while Mott was in court, Syracuse police searched for Harris' body in a city park and a field in the Eastwood area, which is near the mother's apartment, the Post-Standard reported. Officers were seen carrying rakes and buckets into the woods, per WSYR-TV.

A drone was also being used to search the area, according to the Post-Standard.

Police told WSYR-TV that the search in the woods will continue until they find what they need for their investigation, and that an Onondaga County medical examiner was also on the scene.

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Harris’ disappearance had reportedly been discovered after concerned family members contacted Syracuse police on Sunday letting them know that they had not seen or heard from the child. A missing person’s case was then opened, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick told the Post-Standard.

As the authorities investigation continued, police questioned Mott about Harris’ disappearance. During the interrogation, she reportedly admitted that killed the child and hid her body in the woods, Fitzpatrick told the outlet.

Although Mott pleaded not guilty to the charges in court, she is currently being held in the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail, per the Post-Standard and WSYR-TV.

The Onondaga County District Attorney and Mott’s attorney, Don Kelly, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on the case. However, Kelly told the AP that it was “way too early for me to even make any assessment in respect to the case.”

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