SACRAMENTO - A Rancho Cordova couple landed behind bars Wednesday after the death of their 16-month-old baby was ruled a homicide. The child died last June, but it was not until Wednesday that police arrested 34-year-old Tianah Maji for child abuse and 31-year-old Jeffrey Snowden for child abuse and murder.
Both Snowden and Maji refused requests for interviews at the Sacramento County Jail, and authorities released very limited information about the case, but people who knew the couple say they never would have thought they were responsible for the death of their child.
Neighbor Michael Bartley thought he knew Snowden and Maji. He considered Snowden a loving father.
"He loved his kids. He takes care of his kids every day. Go out, go to the park, go play. Everything was about his kids. Everything was for his kids," Bartley said.
That all ended last June when neighbors heard panic coming from the couple's apartment.
"Seeing him come outside screaming like, oh my baby, my baby, like really screaming though," Bartley said.
Neighbors later learned the 16-month-old child had died. The Sacramento District Attorney's office says the coroner ruled the death a homicide after finding the baby died from an infection due to ongoing physical abuse and neglect. They did not release any information about the nature of the physical abuse.
Neighbors were stunned to hear the findings of the investigation.
"They seemed like very down-to-earth people, very nice, you know, talk regularly. I would never seem to think that they would hurt their baby or... no signs, you know," neighbor Carlos Canales said.
After months of investigations, Rancho Cordova Police arrested the couple Tuesday.
"It surprised me 'cause you never can trust... know your neighbors. Never know what they're capable of," Bartley said.
Investigators have remained tight-lipped about most of the details surrounding the case, but neighbors reported two other children living with the couple, including the baby's twin and a slightly older toddler. Neighbors believe those children were taken into custody by social workers following the baby's death last June.