NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The mother of a suspect in the murder of a 5-year-old girl is upset about the entire situation, but she is sticking by her son.
Police say early Monday morning, 16-year-old John Freeman murdered 5-year-old Bella Tennant with his bare hands, then enlisted the help of 18-year-old Tyler Best to stuff her body into a garbage bag and put the bag into a garbage can.
Tyler's mother, Kelly Best, was there on Tuesday in Niagara Falls City Court when her son was arraigned on tampering with physical evidence charges. Tyler pleaded not guilty. On Thursday, she answered News 4's questions through the closed door of her Buffalo home.
"I'm his mother. Of course I'm supportive of him, but I don't condone what he did," she said.
Although Tyler's mother lives in the city, he had been staying with the Freeman family for some time. His mother had no comment about that, nor any message for the Freeman family.
MORE | See our full coverage of this story, including video from the suspects' arraignment in court, an exclusive interview with Bella's mother, and photos from the scene where the girl's body was found
Tyler was staying at the Freeman's home the night little Bella was killed. The felony complaint, filed by Niagara Falls Police, explains the two worked together to hide Bella's body and to keep the crime from being discovered. The complaint further reveals Bella's body was stuffed in several garbage bags before she was left out with the trash.
Kelly said, "I'm very sorry for what happened to that little girl."
The Niagara County Coroner believes Bella was deprived of air and strangled to death. The coroner would not say if anything was stuffed in Bella's mouth before she was killed, but no sexual abuse is suspected.
Knowing her son may have played a role in this innocent girl's death has Kelly very distraught.
"Why wouldn't I be crying right now? I have no more comments for you," she said.
Both Freeman and Best remain in the Niagara County Jail. Bond has not been set or granted for either.
They're both due back in court next month.
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