Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ocala, FL: Ocala teen mother found dead in home

OCALA, Fla. — A teen mother was found dead inside an Ocala home on Thursday.

Investigators said Shankera Smith, 18, was found dead inside a house on Southwest First Street. Family members said Smith had recently moved to the house with her boyfriend, Joseph Lenard Dennis.

Police said Dennis is being investigated in connection with Smith's death. Smith had a 2-month-old boy with Dennis. Family members said the couple's relationship was abusive.

Dennis was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon Thursday after a diaper bag containing a gun was left by Dennis at an acquaintance's house, according to the arrest report.

Detectives said when Dennis showed up at the acquaintance's home, the resident said, "We know what you did and don't want you here." They called police after Dennis left.

Investigators said they found Dennis' orange Crocs and a bag containing the 9-mm handgun, baby clothes, baby bottles with formula and a dirty diaper. Officials said the firearm had an empty magazine and a spent shell casing inside the chamber.

During his initial appearance Friday, Dennis was appointed a public defender and is being held without bond.

Court records show Dennis was arrested in May for false imprisonment and kidnapping, obstruction of justice/intimating a witness or victim and battery.

Friday morning a shelter hearing was held concerning the child, and a judge ruled that the baby would stay in the custody of Dennis' mother, Myrtle Davis, and he would be able to have supervised video conferences at the jail with the child.

Dennis told the court he had $500 at the jail to give to his mother for help with the child.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Ocala Police Department.

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