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Woman sentenced to 30 years in death of boy found in suitcase in Indiana

A blue hard shell suitcase with the words "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas."
Indiana State Police
The body of 5-year-old Cairo Jordan was found in a suitcase in Southern Indiana in April 2022.

One of two women police say are connected to the death of a 5-year-old boy whose body was found in a suitcase in a wooded area in Southern Indiana last year has been sentenced.

Dawn E. Coleman, 41, was sentenced Tuesday to 30 years in prison with five years suspended to probation in connection with the death of Cairo Jordan. Coleman, of Louisiana, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a level 1 felony for conspiracy to commit murder.

Jordan’s mother, Dejuane Anderson, is facing a murder charge and remains at large.

The boy’s body was found in a suitcase in April 2022 by a man hunting for mushrooms in Washington County, Indiana. It took the police six months to identify him.

“This crime impacted not only Washington County, but became a nationwide story,” Washington County Prosecutor Tara Hunt said in a news release. “The victim in this case was an innocent child who was barely 5 years old. It’s always tragic when a child’s life is taken. It’s incomprehensible when those who should be caring for the child are responsible.”

Police previously reported that autopsy results showed Jordan died from an electrolyte imbalance, which they say was due to dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

Coleman, who was arrested last year, told police she, Anderson and Jordan had been staying together at a home in Louisville at the time of the child’s death. She said she walked into a bedroom and saw Anderson on top of him while he was face down. Coleman told police, “It was already done” when she walked in.

She admitted to helping Anderson put the child’s body in a black plastic bag and the suitcase before the two drove to a wooded area near Pekin and dumped it. Police say Coleman’s fingerprint was identified on the bag.

“We are committed to following this case through until the end,” Hunt said. “None of the law enforcement officers and agencies involved in this sad case will find closure until we have ensured Cairo’s mother is held accountable for her actions. This conviction is only the first step in obtaining justice for Cairo.”

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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