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Man Charged With Murder Of Wheeling Mother Ja'nya Murphy Due In Court After Extradition From Missouri

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The man charged with the murder of Ja'nya Murphy – a young mother who was found dead in Wheeling earlier this month – has been extradited from Missouri, and is due to appear for a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Ahmeel Fowler, 26, of Pingree Grove, was charged in a warrant. He was identified as a person of interest early in the investigation and was taken into custody in Springfield, Missouri, two weeks ago.

Ahmeel Fowler
Ahmeel Fowler

Murphy, 21, was found dead in her home on Nov. 9, and an autopsy later determined she had been strangled. Her 1-year-old daughter Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs was missing when Murphy was found dead days later, but Jaclyn's body was later found in a retention pond in Hammond, Indiana.

Fowler is charged with first-degree murder in Murphy's death, and aggravated kidnapping in Angel's abduction, but he has not yet been charged in Jaclyn's death.

Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs 2
Ja'nya Murphy and her daughter Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs (Source: Wheeling Police)


Wheeling police said officers received a missing person report for Murphy, 21, around 10:20 p.m. on Nov. 9 – after she hadn't shown up to work or contacted her family since the day before.

When officers conducted a well-being check at Murphy's home, they found the door unlocked, and Murphy dead inside. Jaclyn was missing, police said.

Police believe Murphy took Jaclyn away in a maroon 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan, which was later located in western Missouri, but Jaclyn was not with the vehicle and was believed to be in danger.

Police also said investigators identified a person of interest now identified as Fowler based on video evidence.

Wheeling police he had a "previous relationship with Ms. Murphy" but is not Jaclyn's father. Three were last seen together on Nov. 8 at a suburban shopping mall.

Meanwhile, Jaclyn's body was found on Nov. 11. Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield said just before noon that day, fire crews were called to a retention pond in a cloverleaf exit ramp on the Borman Expressway (I-80/94) to Kennedy Avenue in Hammond. by construction workers who were working nearby.

"They saw what they believed to be a body floating in the water and they did the appropriate thing and called 911 immediately and 911 dispatch the fire department, which is standard protocol for something like that," Fifield said, "and they went immediately into the water and recovered the body."

Divers recovered Jaclyn's body in the retention pond.

Fowler is due to appear for a bond hearing on the murder and kidnapping charges on Wednesday at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. Wheeling police have said they expect Fowler to face additional charges.

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