The body of the infant daughter of Suceli Margarita Ardon, 26, was found at about 4:40 p.m. Monday by a resident walking her dogs in a field near Silver Coyote Drive and Earmark Court, just north of Sparks Boulevard.
An autopsy conducted Tuesday indicated the infant had died prior to being set on fire and that she had a gastrostomy button surgically attached to her body. This gave police a clue that led them to local hospital records and helped them narrow the field to five potential names.
Police followed one clue to a location in Reno, Sparks Detective Sgt. John Franz told reporters Wednesday, where they found a short, light-skinned woman driving a white 2001 Lincoln Navigator. Plainclothes officers followed the woman, who pulled over when she sensed she was being tailed. Franz said the woman, later identified at Ardon, was distraught but voluntarily came to the Sparks police headquarters.
Ardon tearfully told police that her infant daughter, who was named Brandy, was ill and was not expected to live very long. On March 6, according to Franz’s account of Ardon’s statement, Brandy stopped breathing after receiving some medication. Ardon reportedly panicked and placed the baby in several plastic bags. She took Brandy and drove to the field, stopping along the way to buy gasoline and matches.
When Ardon arrived at the field, she poured gas on the baby’s body and lit it on fire. Firefighters responded to an arson call in the area that day, but when they arrived they found nothing.
Ardon told police she visited the location several times since March 6, and witnesses reportedly saw a white Lincoln Navigator in the area several times, Franz said.
Police said they have located the baby’s father, who verified Brandy’s health problems. Ardon told the father that hospice care workers had taken the baby, and police do not believe he was involved in the infant’s death.
Brandy’s cause of death has not been determined. Ardon was charged with arson and destroying evidence on Tuesday, though more charges could be filed pending the toxicology results of the autopsy.
The case is still under investigation. Ardon is being held on $100,000 bail at the Washoe County jail.