FORT WAYNE, IND. - To assist her dying father, Tarah Souders made a choice: She moved her three young girls to a run-down trailer park in rural Indiana to help take care of him as his lungs rotted from emphysema.
She knew it could be dangerous. The park of about two dozen homes was teeming with convicted sex offenders, with one living at nearly every address. She worried about neighbors with sex-offense records who had been helping her father get by, according to trailer-park residents, but her father, himself a sex-offender, assured her it would be OK.
Weeks later, police say, a horrific tragedy unfolded. Her 9-year-old daughter, Aliahna Lemmon, was brutally killed. Police say Michael Plumadore, 39, told investigators that he beat her to death with a brick, then dismembered her and hid her head, hands and feet at her grandfather's trailer before dumping the other remains elsewhere.
Greg Shumaker, also a sex offender, said Aliahna's family moved there to help take care of James E. "Shorty" Lemmon, 66, who died Dec. 3. He said Lemmon was "getting old" and "had trouble breathing."
Shumaker said he introduced Plumadore to Lemmon shortly after Plumadore moved into the trailer park, and Plumadore moved in with Lemmon a few days later. Shumaker said he knew Lemmon because they were both sex offenders and were in jail together.
Sheriff's department spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel confirmed that Lemmon was a sex offender. Indiana Department of Correction records show he was convicted of child molesting in March 2006.
Aliahna and her two younger sisters were staying with Plumadore for about one week because their mother had been sick with the flu.
Richard Patee, 58, whose trailer is next to where Plumadore was living, said he didn't think it was odd that Aliahna's mother had him watching the girls for an extended period.
"They had known each other for somewhere of three to four years, I know that, and he took care of their grandfather," Patee said. "I didn't see any reason to question it at all."
Shumaker said it wasn't unusual for Plumadore to watch Souders' children "because the kids liked him." Souders and Aliahna were listed among nearly 600 friends on a Facebook page listed under Plumadore's name that said he was "Self Employed and Loving It!", and enjoyed fantasy novels.