Details of Disappearance
Leaona was last seen in Pendleton, South Carolina on June 6, 2015. Her mother, Kiara Sullivan, said she disappeared from their home at the Edgewood Square apartment complex on Cherry Street during the morning hours. Kiara had left her three children in the care of her boyfriend, Travis Devon Jones, while she attended a party. She arrived home at 5:30 a.m. and gave Leaona a cup of juice. She checked on her once more, at 6:30 a.m., before going to bed.
Kiara said she and Travis woke up at 9:30 a.m. to find Leaona gone and the apartment door wide open. She theorized Leaona's three-year-old sister let her out. A neighbor called 911 and reported Leaona missing at 9:47 a.m.
On June 11, Leaona's sister and her six-year-old brother were taken into custody by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Three weeks after Leaona's disappearance, Kiara and Travis were arrested and charged with neglecting Leaona's three-year-old sister. Authorities stated a drug test proved the toddler had been exposed to cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, and both Kiara and Travis tested positive for those drugs. Travis subsequently admitted he'd used drugs while caring for Leaona's sister, and pleaded guilty, but he hasn't been cooperative in the investigation into Leaona's disappearance.
Investigators openly questioned Kiara's story; they stated Leaona's sister could not open the locked apartment door by herself, and that they didn't believe Leaona was even there when her mother arrived home at 5:30 a.m. that day. Police stated they believed both Kiara and Travis lied about the circumstances surrounding Leaona's disappearance and hindered law enforcement efforts to find the girl.
In July 2020, Travis was arrested and charged with murder/homicide by child abuse; the date of the offense was June 6, 2015, the same day Leaona disappeared. The arrest warrant stated Travis had caused the death of a one-year-old child "while committing child abuse or neglect, under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life," and that on that day he "did willfully abandon and neglect the child multiple times."
Travis's older brother, Donnie Roderick Jones, was charged with being an accessory to the murder after the fact, and with destruction or desecration of human remains. Photos of the Jones brothers, and of Kiara, are posted with this case summary.
Leaona's body has not been found. The suspects are awaiting trial, and little information has been released about the evidence against them. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.