Sharena Islam Nancy, a 25-year-old woman whose husband says was working as a ride share driver, is accused in the kidnapping of Nalani Johnson, a 2-year-old girl who was missing in Pennsylvania. An Amber Alert was issued in Nalani’s disappearance. The child has not yet been found, and the details that have emerged are confusing and bizarre.
Tragically, authorities now say the little girl’s body has been found at Pine Ridge Park in Burrell Township, Indiana County.
The Allegheny County Police Department reported in a news release that “the driver of the Toyota Yaris sedan involved in this incident, Sharena Islam Nancy, is lodged in the Allegheny County jail awaiting arraignment after being charged with the following offenses:
• Kidnapping of a minor
• Interference with custody of children
• Concealment of whereabouts of a child.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sharena Nancy Accused Nalani’s Father of Selling the Child for $10,000
Despite the arrest, police say they are still searching for Nalani. According to KDKA-TV, Sharena Nancy told police that Nalani’s father “sold Nalani to someone else for $10,000 and Nancy was to drive the girl 20 minutes from a gas station in Monroeville along Route 22.” She claimed that she gave the girl to two women in “a silver SUV with an out-of-state license plate,” according to KDKA.
Police said in a news release that the FBI has joined in the search for the little girl.
“The Allegheny County Police, FBI and the PA State Police will continue to vigorously investigate this matter to determine the whereabouts of Nalani Johnson. Again, we ask anyone who may have seen anything of interest in this matter to contact the Allegheny County Police Tipline at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477). Callers can remain anonymous. We can also be reached via our social media sites,” they wrote in the news release.
On Sept. 1, 2019, police announced that they continued “to investigate the disappearance of two-year-old Nalani Johnson, who was abducted yesterday in Penn Hills. During our investigation, we developed information that the 2017 black Toyota Yaris, bearing PA license plate KLW3926, travelled to the Blairsville, New Alexandria and Delmont areas of Westmoreland County during the 5:30 to 7:30 PM time frame.”
The court records state that during an interview with authorities, “Nancy said that Johnson ‘sold’ Jane Doe (Nalani) to an unnamed individual for $10,000. According to Nancy, Johnson asked her (Nancy) to drive Jane Doe ’20 minutes’ from a gas station in Monroeville along U.S. Route 22. Nancy said that Johnson showed her a photograph of a black female and told her this individual would ‘flag’ her down along that route and Nancy was to turn Jane Doe over to the woman.”
She told detectives that “she did as Paul Johnson instructed her and encountered a silver SUV with out of state plates parked on the berm of the road with its four way flashers on. Nancy stated that the name of the state on the registration plate was written in cursive. A black female was standing beside the vehicle and a second black female was inside the vehicle.”
Nancy told investigators, according to the court documents, that she “gave Jane Doe to the woman standing beside the vehicle, along with the car seat. Nancy said that she drove near Blairsville and then turned around. Nancy said that she then drove to Monroeville, sat in her car and smoked cigarettes while talking on the phone with her husband, who currently lives in Bangladesh.”
Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said later in a news conference that Nancy and Nalani’s father, Paul Johnson, were in a romantic relationship.
“Sharena Nancy and Paul Johnson became acquainted intermittently over the last few months, so they were known to each other,” McDonough said. “They were friends; they were in the beginnings of an intermittent romantic relationship.”
He added, “We believe that an argument ensued at approximately 5 p.m. or so. Mr. Johnson and Mr. [Justin] Rouse (Johnson’s friend) exited the vehicle with the intention of taking Nalani with them when Ms. Nancy pulled away with the child in the vehicle.”
2. For His Part, Nalani’s Father Claimed She Was ‘Abducted by a Female’ Who Turned Out to Be Sharena Nancy
On Aug. 31, 2019, the Penn Hills Police “were alerted to a possible child abduction in their community. They responded and met with the biological father of the missing child,” the news release says.
“The father explained that his two-year-old daughter was abducted by a female and that female fled in a car with the child. The Penn Hills Police requested the assistance of the Child Abduction Response Team (CART) and an amber alert was issued. CART is comprised of FBI agents and Allegheny County Police detectives. They responded and initiated an investigation,” the release continues.
“The female alleged to have abducted the child, and her car, were located shortly after and she is currently in the company of investigators.” That’s the woman later identified as Sharena Nancy. According to KDKA-TV, Nalani’s father is Paul Johnson, and he alleged that he was in a car with Nalani and Sharena, but Sharena drove off with the child once he got out. He called police and they found the vehicle with Nancy in it, but no Nalani.
3. Sharena’s Husband Says She Worked as a Ride Share Driver
Raihan Uddin is the husband of Sharena Nancy. He told KDKA-TV that she was “working as a ride-share driver Saturday night” and says she didn’t tell him anything about a child, even though they talked that night.
Police say there were ride share stickers on the car’s windshield. “The vehicle used during this incident was a 2017 black Toyota Yaris hatchback with Lyft and Uber stickers in the front passenger side windshield,” they say.
“The Allegheny County Police have assumed the lead role in the investigation and are being assisted by the FBI,” police added.
Uber told KDKA-TV reporter Chris Hoffman that no one with Sharena Nancy’s name “took trips on the app this past weekend.” Lyft released this statement to Hoffman, “While this incident did not happen on the Lyft platform, these allegations are deeply disturbing. The safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft and we have permanently banned this individual from driving with Lyft.”
4. Nancy Is Married With a Daughter But Her Husband Was Deported to India
Uddin further told KDKA that he spoke to Nancy the night of the alleged abduction but she didn’t mention a child.
“She has me on the dashboard, so I mean I saw the car – the whole thing. She called the video off, but I still could hear her,” he said to the television station, which added that Uddin lives in India because he was deported. They were married in 2018, and he lives with their daughter in India, according to the television station, but Nancy sends them money.
WPXI-TV described Sharena Nancy as “a 25-year-old Indian-American woman with black hair and brown eyes.” That description was put out initially when police were looking for Nancy.
Nancy is being held in the Allegheny County Jail, according to jail records.
5. Sharena Nancy Has a History of Traffic Cases
A review of Nancy’s court record summary in Pennsylvania courts shows she has a history of traffic accusations, including reckless driving and duty of driver in emergency response situation. However, the reckless driving case was dismissed.
You can read her full court summary here.
The police news release provided these additional details:
“The abduction occurred at the intersection of Bryant Road and Prescott Road in Penn Hills. Through the course of the investigation, it has been determined that the female drove to Monroeville shortly thereafter. The car was spotted near the intersection of Route 48 and Route 22 at approximately 5:13 PM yesterday,” they wrote.
“The child’ name is Nalani Johnson. She is described as a black female with a light complexion, who will be two years old in September. She has short curly black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a black shirt and a skirt with a floral pattern and black sandals. She is of average height and weight for a child that age and goes by the nickname ‘Mooh.'”