Tinessa Hogan is a person of interest in the deaths of her daughters, Destiny, 9, and Daysha, 7, after their bodies were found floating in a canal in Lauderhill, Florida. The 36-year-old mother was questioned by police after neighbors claimed she offered to baptize their children in the same canal. Tinessa’s current whereabouts have not been revealed by officials.
Tinessa Hogan was taken into custody by Lauderhill police on Tuesday, a day after Destiny and Daysha were seen swimming in the canal. In a press conference Wednesday, police claimed that Hogan was not still in custody but could not comment on her current whereabouts. Reports suspect that she is being held in a psychiatric institution under Florida’s Baker Act.
“She is not in the community right now, and we’re not at liberty to say where she is,” Lauderhill Police Lt. Mike Bigwood said, who confirmed that the girls’ father is not in the picture. Right now, Tinessa Hogan is the only suspect identified in the case, though police are still trying to determine what happened to the little girls.
On Monday, both daughters were seen swimming in the canal with their mother, who was carrying a Bible and offering to baptize neighbors’ children. One neighbor recalled the Monday incident, saying that she ushered her children inside after Hogan tried to evangelize them. “I was more concerned for her,” Marie Williams explained. “I should have been more cautious.”
Both Destiny and Daysha Hogan were found dead in the canal Tuesday. Destiny was found first after police received a 911 call that claimed either a child or a mannequin was floating in the water. “I need you guys to come … to see if there is a little girl’s body in the water,” the caller said. “I can’t tell if it’s a mannequin head, I mean a mannequin body or a body that’s been in the water for some days.”
After Destiny was found, police made contact with Tinessa Hogan, though it’s unclear whether police were aware of the second daughter. Daysha was eventually found Tuesday night, just before 9 p.m., floating in the same waters as her sister.
The cause of death for both girls has not been identified and authorities are working closely with forensic examiners to determine what happened to them. Police are also asking for help from the Lauderhill community to try to piece together the events that lead to the tragic death of two sisters.
“We’re making a plea to the public and specifically the community of central Lauderhill, to please, if you know the family, if you know the children, if you’re familiar with the relationship, if you’re familiar with any churches, organizations that the family may be a part of, please call us,” Bigwood pleaded. “We desperately need to know what these relationships are and put some context to how this may have happened.”
Neighbors reported to The Sun Sentinel that Tinessa Hogan had a “cult-like personality,” and attempted to evangelize her neighbors and their children. It’s unclear at this time whether this had anything to do with the deaths of Destiny and Daysha Hogan.
Witnesses claimed that when the girls’ mother was taken into custody, she was shouting “I am God! I am the Devil!” before being handcuffed and taken away. The day before, Lawana Johnson, who lived near Tinessa Hogan, claimed Hogan addressed her.
“She was in the water swimming, she had a bible and she told me to come here,” Johnson explained. “I said, ‘Why?’ She said she wanted to baptize me. She said God told her,” and, “I said ‘God didn’t tell you anything.”
In the press conference Wednesday, Lauderhill police confirmed that the investigation is covering multiple angles. It’s unclear whether Tinessa Hogan is part of a church or organization, and police are unsure if she is a pastor. Reporters speculate that Hogan is being held for psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows families to provide emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people affected by mental illness.