CPS: Girl's body has been in fridge since January death

Houston police say the victim was found wrapped in blankets

By Phil Archer - Reporter, Amanda Perez

HOUSTON - New details were revealed Wednesday in the case of a 9-year-old girl found dead in her mother's apartment in southwest Houston.

The day after the victim's mother came forward to speak with homicide detectives, an emergency custody hearing was held for the girl's 5-year-old sister.

The body of Ayahna Comb was found wrapped in blankets in the kitchen of an apartment she shared with her mother and her younger sister in the 10100 block of Club Creek Drive.

The girls' mother, Amber Keyes, was questioned by police on Tuesday evening. Police have not yet said if any charges will be filed against Keyes.

A CPS case worker told the court during Wednesday's hearing that Keyes admitted putting her severely handicapped daughter's emaciated body in a drawer of her refrigerator after the 9-year-old stopped breathing on Jan. 29. The caseworker says Ayahna weighed only 14 pounds when she was found Monday.

According to an investigator's affidavit obtained by Local 2 News, Keyes hid the girl's death from her family. When asked why, the affidavit says, "Ms. Keyes said she panicked and does not know why she didn't call for help."

Instead Keyes told family that Ayahna, who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, had been placed in a facility for children with special needs.

She even kept the death hidden from Ayahna's 5-year-old sister who lived in the apartment. But investigators say the little girl was soon telling playmates about seeing the body.

The affidavit says the girl told investigators, "...that one time she opened the drawer to the fridge looking for a cheese stick and there was a body in the drawer."

The investigators go on to say that Keyes, "continued to collect Social Security Disability Income and food stamps for Ayahna following her death."

And the affidavit says Keyes even renewed her application for food stamps last May.

In court Wednesday, the children's father, Armand Comb, insisted he'd seen the Ayahna just two months ago, even though by her mother's account she died long before.

Comb was seeking custody of the younger sister. After hearing a caseworker bring up concerns about Comb's alleged substance abuse, his emotional and mental health, and his failure to follow up on Ayahna's disappearance, the judge ruled Ayahna's 5-year-old sibling will remain in CPS custody for now.

The judge set a temporary custody hearing for next week. The girl's mother has been ordered to appear.

The judge also appointed a lawyer for Comb. He has also agreed to undergo a drug screening.

Police found Ayahna's body Monday after a concerned neighbor entered her mother's apartment through an unlocked door and found the child's body. He called the Houston Fire Department. Firefighters notified police.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday to determine the exact cause and time of the girl's death. Those autopsy results have not yet been released.

The caseworker also testified that the girl's mother said Ayahna had last seen a doctor more than two years ago. The caseworker told a judge that when Ayahna was found, she was emaciated, thin, and her body was decomposing.

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