The woman, Geralyn Graham, also served time in a Tennessee prison for food stamp fraud under the name Gerrilyn Savage, the newspaper reported Saturday.
The description of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, not reported missing until April 25, is so similar to that of the beheaded body of a child found last year in Kansas City, Mo., that investigators believe they might be the same child. Officials are now comparing DNA taken from the dead child, nicknamed Precious Doe, and Rilya's mother.
"The approximate ages are very close, the height, weight and body frame are very similar and the facial features are very similar," said Kansas City Police Capt. Randy Hopkins.
"I'm just waiting and praying that she's not dead," the girl's mother, Gloria Wilson told CBS News. "I was in shock; I thought that she was in better care."
The state placed Rilya in Graham's care six months after Dr. Steven D. Wheeler diagnosed Graham as having chronic pain and mental illness, the Herald said. The diagnosis was made after Graham was involved in a 1996 car accident.
Graham's condition was likened to a form of psychosis, said her lawyer, Edward Shohat.
He said Graham's mental health was being used to deflect attention away from the Department of Children and Families.
Rilya's disappearance apparently went unnoticed for 15 months by the state agency, which had custody of the child and had placed her in Graham's care.
A court docket showed caseworkers at the Department of Children and Families filed status reports on Rilya's custody and adoption status or participated in hearings at least five times during that period.
But Graham, who is listed in state paperwork as Rilya's paternal grandmother, has said the little girl was taken away for evaluation in January 2001 by someone Graham thought was a social worker.
Rilya's mother lost custody of the child because of a drug addiction. She has said that Graham is the girl's godmother and that she met her after getting to know Graham's daughter in a drug treatment program.