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Man pleads guilty in fatal kidnapping of 2-year-old Michigan girl in 2023

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man pleaded guilty Friday to kidnapping and killing a 2-year-old girl whose disappearance last summer led to a 100-mile (161-kilometer) search that stretched from the state capital to the Detroit area.

Rashad Trice, 27, admitted that he took Wynter Cole Smith from her home in Lansing as part of a dispute with a former girlfriend who was the girl's mother.

The girl was strangled with a phone cord and left in a Detroit alley last July, investigators said.

Trice was charged in federal court. While the kidnapping did not cross state lines, there was federal jurisdiction because the car and other tools used to carry out the crime, including a phone, were made outside Michigan, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

“My hope is this will give Wynter’s family, friends and all of the law enforcement partners who were and are still affected by this tragedy a sense of closure," Lansing police Chief Ellery Sosebee said.

Until the girl's remains were found, searchers had fanned out to look for her along a highway between Lansing and Detroit, an effort that involved divers, dogs, drones and helicopters.

Trice faces a sentence of life in prison. There are separate charges pending against him in state court.