Missing girl's caretakers charged
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Nearly two and half years after little Rilya Wilson disappeared without a trace, police have charged her main caregiver with kidnapping and child abuse.
Geralyn Graham is already in prison for both identity fraud and Medicaid fraud for accepting payments on behalf of Rilya after she no longer had the child in her care.
Rilya remains missing. If she is still alive, she will turn 8 years old on September 29.
Graham's former domestic partner, Pamela Graham, also is charged, with two counts of a lesser degree of child abuse/neglect.
If convicted, Geralyn Graham could be sent to prison for at least 30 years, while Pamela Graham could be sentenced to up to 10 years.
Authorities discovered Rilya's disappearance in April 2002.
Geralyn Graham has long maintained she turned over the child to a Florida child welfare worker about 15 months earlier after asking that the state take charge of the child for alleged behavioral problems at home.
The state has insisted it had no record of anyone from its agency picking up the child. But Florida officials also admitted they had lost track of the child in the state system.
Police: Caretakers failed lie detector tests
Geralyn Graham has consistently denied she ever abused Rilya and denied she had any role in the child's disappearance.
As recently as April, she told CNN, in a jailhouse interview, "As far as I remember, the last time I saw Rilya was when I put her in the car with the lady [from the Florida Department of Children and Families] and fastened her seat belt."
At a news conference Wednesday, Miami-Dade Police Director Bobby Parks said investigators never believed the Grahams' version. Both women failed lie detector tests when interviewed early in the case, police said, indicating deception in questions about Rilya.
"This was really a lie and I emphasize it was a fabrication, a concoction in an attempt by Geralyn Graham to cover up Rilya's disappearance," Parks said.
"Regrettably ... it's unfortunate that we still have to report that we have not located Rilya."
Parks would not elaborate on what evidence he may have to support the allegation of kidnapping.
One suspect is cooperating
Police said Pamela Graham is cooperating with the investigation.
Geralyn Graham's lawyer, Brian Tannebaum, told CNN he suspects Pamela Graham is doing so to save herself from further prosecution. She was sentenced to probation on Medicaid-related fraud charges.
Pamela Graham's attorney could not be reached for comment. As for his client, Tannebaum said, "I'm not surprised they're charging her. [The police] never believed Geralyn and Pamela. I don't know how these charges are going to help them find Rilya. Their goal is to find Rilya. So is Geralyn's. She says she has told them everything she knows."
Parks would not comment on why he views the charges as appropriate.
"We are comfortable these are the charges to be levied, based on our investigative findings," he said. "We have reached a conclusion that DCF did not remove the child from the premises."
Pamela Graham's attorney said he isn't impressed, telling CNN, "The way that agency is run with all its mistakes, why is that surprising?"
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said, "Our hope is that with these additional charges, we may be able to find her."
CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.