Woman Sentenced to Over 18 Years in Prison in Murder of Child Found in Suitcase

Dawn Coleman booking photo

Staff report

Sellersburg, Indiana – November 10, 2023

Dawn Elaine Coleman, a 41-year-old woman from Shreveport, Louisiana, was sentenced on Tuesday by Washington Circuit Court Judge Larry Medlock to more than 18 years in prison for her involvement in the murder of a 5-year-old boy found abandoned inside a suitcase in rural Washington County in 2022.

Coleman pleaded guilty earlier this month to a Level 1 felony charge of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the tragic death of the child, identified as Cairo Jordan, the son of Dejuane Anderson of Atlanta.

Washington County Prosecutor Tara Hunt expressed the severity of the impact of this crime, stating, “This crime impacted not only Washington County but became a nationwide story. The victim in this case was an innocent child who was barely five 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.”

The incident came to light when a man searching for mushrooms stumbled upon the suitcase on April 16, 2022, in a wooded area outside of Pekin. Opening the suitcase with a distinctive “Las Vegas” imprint, the man made a horrifying discovery—finding the body of the young child inside.

Coleman’s involvement in the crime was established through a fingerprint found on a black plastic bag containing the child’s body. According to a probable cause affidavit, Coleman confessed to witnessing Anderson lying on top of the child, face down on a bed, before assisting in placing the child into a trash bag and subsequently into the suitcase.

The investigation further revealed that Coleman and Anderson were acquainted and had stayed together with the child in a home in Louisville. Coleman disclosed to law enforcement officials that she had known Anderson for about a year and had traveled extensively with her and Cairo.

Despite Coleman’s sentencing, Dejuane Anderson, the child’s mother and the primary suspect in the case, remains at large. Hunt affirmed the commitment of law enforcement agencies to pursue the case until Anderson is located and held accountable for her actions. Anderson will face murder charges upon her arrest.

“This conviction is only the first step in obtaining justice for Cairo,” stated Prosecutor Hunt, emphasizing the dedication to bring closure to the case.

Anderson is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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