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'It was already done': New details in Cairo Jordan's murder, suspect pleads not guilty

WHAS-TV Louisville 11/20/2022 Tom Lally, WHAS11 Staff
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One of the two women charged in the death of 5-year-old Cairo Jordan appeared in a southern Indiana courtroom on Monday, pleading not guilty to her numerous charges.

It’s been seven months since the young boy was found dead inside a "Las Vegas" suitcase that was dumped in a wooded area of rural southern Indiana.

For the first time, Dawn Coleman appeared before a judge in an orange jumpsuit. 

When the judge began to read off her charges and the potential sentence she faces if convicted, Coleman began to cry.

She's been charged with neglect of a child resulting in death, 30 to 40 years; altering documents so they can't be used as evidence, a misdemeanor; and her latest charge, aiding in murder, comes with 45 to 65 years behind bars.

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A police affidavit explains why Coleman has now been charged with aiding in murder. 

It states Coleman told police that, in April, she walked into a bedroom to find Cairo's mother, Dejaune Anderson, on top of the child with his face in the mattress.

"It was already done," Coleman allegedly told police, adding there were trash bags already in the room and she helped put Cairo's body inside the suitcase.

Police arrested Coleman about a month ago in San Francisco. She was extradited back to Indiana and booked into the Washington County Jail early Sunday morning.

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Indiana State Police Sergeant Carey Huls said seeing her on Indiana soil brings a little bit of closure, but police ask everyone to keep Cairo's family in their prayers.

"It is emotional," he said. "This is a case that everybody is watching and everybody has a stake in. If you have someone who you care about in your life, it is easy to understand why this is so emotional."

While Coleman has entered a plea of not guilty, the judge ultimately set her bond as $5 million. Her trial is scheduled to begin on May 2, 2023.

Ongoing nationwide manhunt

Police discovered Coleman and  Anderson were involved in the 5-year-old's death after a forensic evidence team found fingerprints on two of the trash bags wrapped around his body.  A second set of fingerprints matched Coleman’s.

While Coleman was in court Monday, Anderson is still on the run and could be anywhere in the country.

Huls said he's confident police will find and arrest her soon, but wouldn't offer more information on the case.

Anderson is described as being about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 135 pounds. She had short, dark brown hair in her last known photo, but she is known to often wear wigs or hair extensions. 

Anyone who sees Anderson, or knows of her whereabouts at this time, is asked to contact their local police department with that information.

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