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Murder charges filed in strangulation of young mother in Wheeling

Ahmeel Fowler, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Ja’nya Murphy, Wheeling police said in a statement.

Ja’nya Murphy and Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs
Ja’nya Murphy and Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs
Wheeling police

A man has been charged with the murder of a young mother whose daughter was found dead days later in a retention pond in northwest Indiana.

Ahmeel Fowler, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Ja’nya Murphy, Wheeling police said in a statement.

Fowler has not been charged with the death of Murphy’s daughter, 1-year-old Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs, but police said they “anticipate additional charges” as the investigation continues.

Ahmeel Fowler
Greene County sheriff’s office

Authorities had been searching for Jaclyn since Tuesday, the day her mother was found dead in her apartment in north suburban Wheeling. An autopsy found Murphy had been strangled and died of asphyxiation, authorities said.

Her daughter Jaclyn was not in the apartment, sparking a frantic search. Construction workers spotted Jaclyn’s body Thursday afternoon in a pond near the Interstate 80-Kennedy Avenue exit ramp and alerted Indiana State Police, officials said.

An autopsy to determine the child’s cause of death was scheduled for Friday morning.

Fowler was identified as a person of interest early on in the investigation and was arrested in Springfield, Missouri on Wednesday.

He is not Jaclyn’s father but had a relationship with Murphy and was last seen with her and the child at a mall on Monday, around the time her family last had contact with her, police said.

Murphy was a 2018 graduate of Stevenson High School and lived with her daughter at the apartment building, Wheeling police said.