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Death of girl found wrapped in blankets in refrigerator ruled a homicide

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HOUSTON – The death of a girl whose body was found wrapped in blankets inside a refrigerator at a southwest Houston apartment has been ruled a homicide.  According to records, the primary cause of death for 9-year-old Ayahna Comb is malnutrition and dehydration.

Ayahna lived with her mother and 5-year-old sister in the 10100 block of Club Creek Drive.  The girl had cerebral palsy and was so severely disabled she could not feed, clothe or care for herself.  Family members said she was usually confined to a bed.

A concerned neighbor entered the family's apartment through an unlocked door on June 9 and found the child's body.  He called the Houston Fire Department, and police were called to the scene.

Ayahna's mother, Amber Keyes, had custody of both of her daughters.  After Ayahna's body was discovered, the 5-year-old was removed from the mother's custody and placed in the care of relatives.

Keys voluntarily turned herself in to authorities to answer questions surrounding her daughter's death.

Ayahna weighed only 14 pounds at the time of her death.

A CPS case worker told the court during a hearing that Keyes admitted putting her daughter's emaciated body in a drawer of her refrigerator after she stopped breathing on Jan. 29.

Keyes said she panicked, and hid her daughter's death from authorities and family members.  Ayahna's father, Armand Combs, insisted that he had recently talked to his daughter's mother and she acted as if everything was fine.  He sought custody of the youngest girl, but was denied.

Ayahna's little sister also had no idea her sister was dead. Investigators say the girl found Ayahna's body in the drawer of the refrigerator while she was looking for a cheese stick snack.  She then began telling her playmates.

Authorities said Keyes continued collecting Social Security Disability Income and food stamps for Ayahna following her death.
 
According to court documents, Ayahna's mother has a criminal history.

In 1998, police arrested Keyes on possession of a controlled substance charges and she spent more than a year in prison.

In 2000, she was arrested for criminal trespass and spent 30 days in jail.

CPS investigators say the mother of three has a history of substance abuse and a history with their agency.

Keyes also had a third daughter, who was older than Ayanha, but lost custody of her. The eldest girl was put up for adoption in 2004.