MARKHAM, Ill. — Markham police announced an arrest Thursday in the yearslong investigation into the death of one-year-old Ana Marie Townsend.

Melody Townsend, the mother of the murdered toddler, was arrested for felony child endangerment and aiding a fugitive. More charges could be forthcoming.

Authorities located 40-year-old Townsend in California on March 22. She was extradited to the state of Illinois on Tuesday. She is set to go before a judge on Thursday.

Melody Townsend

Ana Marie Townsend’s body was found July 3, 2017 at the scene of a house fire at 155th and Hamlin. She was located inside a plastic bag on the upstairs floor of the abandoned home. Her identity was initially unknown.

Two years later the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office announced her identity through the use of DNA and officially ruled her death as a homicide, noting physical trauma had occurred unrelated to the fire.

Community activists came out two years later in December 2021 and specifically questioned why no one has heard from the baby’s mother or father.

Police in Markham said that their investigation continues.

“The ultimate goal is still to find out who killed this child and how this child died,” said Chief Jack Genius with the Markham Police Department. “We want to find out who that was, how that happened and bring them to justice. This child deserves justice and that’s what we’re doing.”

Watch the full press conference in the video player above:

Townsend is scheduled to appear in court Friday.