A mother whose 3-year-old son disappeared from a swap meet in Nevada in 1986 was charged with murdering the toddler, according to reports.
Amy Elizabeth Fleming, 60, of Dania Beach, Florida, remained in custody Monday in Palm Beach County after being booked into the facility last month in connection to the cold case murder of little Francillon Pierre, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Fleming, then known as Amy Luster, and the boy’s stepfather, Lee Luster, told police that they lost track of the toddler, who was nicknamed Yo-Yo, while at the Broad Acres Swap Meet in North Las Vegas on Aug. 2, 1986. The couple, who were charged months earlier with abusing the boy, were suspected of foul play after asking authorities not to publicize the his disappearance out of fears that it would be sensationalized by the media.
The Lusters had been awaiting trial in that case when the little boy vanished and the couple later pleaded no contest to felony child abuse – which left the boy with up to 40 welts on his body – and were sentenced to five years’ probation, the Palm Beach Post reported.
A month after the child disappeared, the couple tried to sell some of his toys at a garage sale to pay for a trip to Seattle, but widespread news reports of the development scuttled the sale. The Lusters were later charged with perjury in December 1986 after allegedly lying about their backgrounds, including where they lived and their occupations. The outcome of those charges was not clear on Friday, according to the newspaper.
The couple then suggested at one point that Jean Pierre, Amy Luster’s former boyfriend and Francillon’s biological father, was behind the toddler’s disappearance. Pierre was later located in Haiti and was ruled out as a suspect after passing a lie detector test in Nevada, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Amy and Lee Luster traveled to Florida about 11 months after the toddler disappeared, ending up in Orlando, where their “bizarre behavior and revelations about their past” continued to make them suspects in case, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“A small group of people at the flea market sincerely believe that the boy was with them,” North Las Vegas Police Lt. Dorin Goudreau told the newspaper “But a larger number just as sincerely say he wasn’t there, including the ticket taker. It’s hard to discount either one.”
But the couple maintained that Pierre was behind the boy’s disappearance and told reporters in Las Vegas at the time that one of the reasons they moved to Orlando was to be closer to Haiti, where they believed he was located.
The Nevada Probation and Parole Department then granted the Lusters a 30-day travel pass in the absence of formal charges to seek employment in Florida, where they could also escape the notoriety and intense media coverage in Las Vegas.
It’s unclear how long the Lusters stayed in Central Florida or when Amy Luster later moved to South Florida, but the Palm Beach Post reports that a 2009 IRS lien for $46,000 for unpaid taxes show Amy E. Fleming Luster and Mahaleel “Lee” Luster as residents of Sunny Isles Beach in Miami-Dade County.
Fleming was taken into custody on Jan. 29 in Boca Raton on a murder warrant from Clark County, Nevada. Details of the arrest were not immediately clear, but a press conference was scheduled in North Las Vegas for Monday afternoon, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Fleming will not fight extradition to Nevada and has a hearing scheduled in West Palm Beach on Monday, according to the newspaper.
Investigators made the arrest after they “pieced several things together” within the last few months, police said.
“We can’t give out everything until it hits the courts, but more of what happened will become clear at the news conference,” North Las Vegas Police Officer Eric Leavitt told KSNV.
Francillon Pierre, meanwhile, is still classified as missing and the victim of a “non-family abduction” by the Charley Project, an organization that tracks missing persons cold cases, primarily in the United States.
“Amy and Lee are considered suspects in the child’s case, but they have never been charged in connection with it,” the website reads. “They moved to Florida about eleven months after Francillon disappeared. They stated they still believed Jean had taken Francillon, and that the reason they moved to Florida was to be closer to Haiti, where they believed he was.”