Details of Disappearance
Khaleesi was last seen sometime in February 2021, but she was not reported missing until September. At the time of her disappearance, she was in the care of Candi Jo Royer and lived with her in Waynesboro, Virginia. Khaleesi's mother, Amanda G. Arey, had placed her daughter in Royer's care in October 2020, while Arey was incarcerated in the Middle River Regional Jail for parole violation.
Royer was reported missing on September 3 and was believed to be with her boyfriend, Travis Brown, who had been a fugitive wanted by police in five different jurisdictions since August 21. He had fourteen charges against him, including strangulation, grand larceny, and assault and battery of a family member among other offenses.
Photos of Royer and Brown are posted with this case summary. Police stated the pair had been going on a crime spree across Virginia and Pennsylvania since Royer went missing.
When Arey found out Royer was missing, she told jail authorities that Royer had her child. By this time, Royer had stopped communicating with Arey in jail, and Arey hadn't heard from her or Brown in months and was concerned about her daughter's safety. Arey had been told that Royer placed Khaleesi with the child's maternal grandmother or aunt in the Covington, Virginia area, but this was untrue.
Royer and Brown were located in Pennsylvania on September 12, and arrested. They had driven there in a stolen car and were hiding in a motel. They did not have Khaleesi and initially claimed workers with Shenandoah Valley Social Services had taken her, something Shenandoah Valley Social Services denied. Eventually Rowan said Khaleesi had died after accidentally striking her head, and he wrapped her body in a blanket and put it in the trash.
Royer was charged with abuse/neglect of a child resulting in serious injury; Brown wasn't charged directly in Khaleesi's disappearance, but was held on other, unrelated charges. A little over a week later, police announced Khaleesi was dead, and had died while in the couple's care at Royer's home in the 200 block of Cattle Scales Road in Waynesboro around January 2021.
A video taken of Khaleesi in January 2021 showed the child was covered with bruises, frail and unable to stand. Still photos of her taken around that time showed cuts and bruises on her face. Khaleesi's blood was found on the upstairs doorframes at Brown's home. Hair found in electrical tape wrapped around a bent wire hanger also matched Khaleesi's DNA. Brown made strange claims about the four-year-old to the police, stating she was suicidal and also sexually aware, and that she had once tried to choke his own daughter.
In May 2022, Royer and Brown were indicted for Khaleesi's murder. Each was charged with aggravated murder, felony murder, unlawfully concealing a dead body, conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and conspiracy to concceal a dead body. Brown was also charged with child abuse/neglect resulting in serious injury.
In August 2023, Brown was convicted of aggravated murder, felony murder and child abuse in Khaleesi's death, though his attorney tried to place the blame on Royer. At the trial, an expert on child abuse said how Khaleesi was treated "fits the definition of child torture." Two weeks after Brown's conviction, Royer pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. The other charges against her were dropped. The pair have yet to be sentenced.
Khaleesi's body has never been located, but foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved. Investigators believe her remains are in a landfill which would potentially take years to thoroughly search.