Coroner announces cause of death for SC 4-year-old girl found in a storage container

A 4-year-old girl whose body was found in a plastic storage bin behind her Pelzer, South Carolina, house died of asphyxiation due to suffocation by entrapment, the Greenville County Coroner’s Office announced Tuesday.

Joanna Lockaby’s manner of death was deemed a homicide, the coroner said.

Her half brother, William Micah Hester, 17, known as Micah, was charged with murder shortly after the girl’s body was found on July 20 by a search and rescue team. The parents had reported her missing about an hour before she was found.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

During a bond hearing in July, Hester’s father implored the judge to grant his son bond, saying, “He’s a good boy.”

The father said, “Micah would not do anything like this on purpose. I know my boy. He loves his sister.”

He also said, “We’ve lost little Joanna. I don’t want to lose my son, too.”

The judge denied bond. Hester is being held at the Department of Juvenile Justice pending trial.

Joanna was the second child the family has lost. Joanna’s older brother, Joe Lockaby, died in June 2018 after being left in a car by his grandmother. He was 18 months old, and Joanna was a baby.

Janik Nix was originally charged with homicide by child abuse, but pleaded guilty in 2019 to assault and battery, court records show. She was sentenced to 10 years, which was suspended with completion of three years of probation.

Family members said at the time she left the boy in the car to run inside her home before they went to McDonald’s, but a medical condition caused her to become unconscious.