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Stepmother charged with murder after toddler’s remains found in vacant apartment

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The stepmother of a missing Richmond girl has been charged with murder and felony child abuse.

"Andrea P. Watkins-Simmons, 35, of Clarkson Road, was indicted by a grand jury last week on charges of 1st-degree murder, felony murder and child neglect," a Richmond Police spokeswoman said.

Police issued a missing person's bulletin for two-year-old Ariellisa Simmons and her stepmother Andrea Watkins-Simmons last November. For weeks, police the public to help locate the pair.

Photos provided by Richmond police in November of 2015 show 2-year-old Ariellisa Simmons and Andrea Watkins-Simmons.

Photos provided by Richmond police in November of 2015 show 2-year-old Ariellisa Simmons and Andrea Watkins-Simmons.

But then in mid-January, the remains of a toddler were found in an attic of a vacant apartment off Chamberlayne Avenue.

Two weeks later, Andrea Watkins Simmons was arrested in New York City and Ariellisa was not with her.

Andrea Watkins-Simmons (PHOTO: Richmond Police)

Andrea Watkins-Simmons (PHOTO: Richmond Police)

Police have yet to confirm the identity of the remains discovered in the attic, but multiple police sources said it was the body of the two-year-old.

A March obituary confirmed the child’s death.

"Watkins-Simmons was initially arrested in New York in late January on a charge of felony abduction," police said. "She has been fighting extradition since the time of her arrest, but was brought back to Virginia on April 19."

Simmons is being held without bond at Richmond City Jail. She is scheduled to appear in court on May 23.