Connie Ann Smith, of Emmett, Idaho, reported her 8-year-old granddaughter missing on April 12, telling police she’d run away.
Three days later, little Taryn Summers was found—stuffed inside a garbage bag in the backseat of the grandma’s black Lexus, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.
Authorities have now charged Smith with failing to notify law enforcement of death and destruction of evidence. During her Monday afternoon arraignment, Gem County Prosecuting Attorney Erik Thompson called the case “egregious” and said additional charges could be filed soon.
“This is a huge devastation and loss to my sister, my family, and I and we are completely heartbroken to lose a family member at such a young age and in such a tragic way. Taryn had a personality twice her size and was a very funny and smart little girl who could always make everyone laugh,” Jennifer Sexton, Summers’ aunt, wrote in a GoFundMe campaign. “Taryn is so loved and was a bright light taken in such an evil way from this world way too soon, and she will be greatly missed.”
While authorities have only identified the child found inside Smith’s car as “TS,” family members have confirmed her identity. Last week, the Gem County Sheriff’s Office announced it had discovered a body believed to be Taryn’s, with details matching those in the affidavit. The affidavit also lists Smith as the grandmother and custodian of “TS,” and says Smith has a son whose last name is Summers. The 54-year-old is the owner of the property where the little girl was reportedly last seen.
Authorities say that when officers arrived at Smith’s house after she’d reported Summers missing, they discovered a piece of the carpet had been cut out. Smith allegedly told police she’d removed the carpet and burned it after the had child “defecated” on it.
The affidavit states that police ultimately learned that earlier in the day, Smith had been seen driving from a preschool with Summers sleeping in the backseat. Smith admitted the girl was still asleep when they arrived home and that she carried her into a bedroom.
On April 14, police and Idaho state forensics investigators returned to search the home again—and found a “small brown spot” on the bedroom wall they believed to be blood.
After several searches around Smith’s property, investigators gained access to Smith’s Lexus—after she initially told police she “did not know where the key (was) for the vehicle.”
Inside, they found Summers’ body in a black trash bag on the floor. Investigators said the little girl had vomit on her shirt and in her hair. Smith was then arrested on April 15, according to online court records.
“In reviewing the probable cause affidavit, the alleged conduct is disturbing,” Judge Tyler Smith said during Smith’s hearing on Monday, before ordering an $800,000 bond. “Report that the child was missing. Ultimately the discovery of the deceased child on the property, I believe two days later. The potential penalty, depending on the conclusion of the investigation, could be severe.”
Smith’s attorney did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Authorities also noted that Summer was not the only relative connected to Smith who’s gone missing. The Gem County Sheriff’s Office said that 16-year-old Tristan Conner Sexton went missing in September 2020 and 14-year-old Taylor Summers disappeared in October. Both teens have since been located and were not in danger.
All three children lived in Smith’s house after being moved from their mother’s house in 2019 after testing positive for hard drugs, according to EastIdahoNews.
“Law enforcement has been in contact with Taylor and does not believe her to be in danger at this time. Family has been in contact with Tristan Sexton and law enforcement does not believe him to be in danger at this time,” Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder said on Thursday. “I want to thank everyone for their concern and support during the last few days.”