5-Year Old Murder Victim Died from Asphyxiation

August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 8:52 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 28, 2012 at 8:52 PM EDT


(Niagara Falls, NY) - Late Tuesday afternoon, Niagara County Coroner Cindy-Lou Joyce released the cause of death for 5-year old Isabella Tennant.

"Asphyxiation due to mechanical obstruction of the airway and compression of the neck," explained the coroner.

However, she did not elaborate on any other specifics citing sensitivities to the family, and an on-going prosecution by the Niagara County District Attorney's Office.

Two teenagers who police say are connected to the death of a 5-year-old girl from Cheektowaga faced a judge Tuesday morning for their arraignment in Niagara Falls City Court.

16-year-old John Robert Freeman is charged with second degree murder, after police say the teenager killed Isabella Tennant with his bare hands. The little girl was found dead Monday morning. Her body was wrapped in a garbage bag and then thrown in a trash can. She had been staying with her great-grandmother at her home on 6th Street, while her mother was at work.

Family members call Freeman, "a close family friend," who they trusted to watch the little girl.

Police say Freeman's friend, 18-year-old Tyler Best helped him dispose of her body. Best went to the police department on Monday around 10:00 a.m. and led officers to where her body was. Best faces a felony charge of tampering with evidence.

Both teens pleaded not guilty during their court appearance. Isabella's family left court Tuesday morning without making any statements.