your connection to The Boston Globe

Pa. father held in death of toddler he allegedly left out in the cold to die

William Lorenzo Page, 23, in court Wednesday, allegedly told police he hit Nyia, 23 months, in anger. William Lorenzo Page, 23, in court Wednesday, allegedly told police he hit Nyia, 23 months, in anger. (jasmine gehris/tribune-review via ap)

PITTSBURGH -- A man angry that his toddler daughter wouldn't go to bed knocked her unconscious and left her to die outside in single-digit temperatures, police said.

The frozen body of Nyia Miangel Page, who was about to turn 2, was found Sunday at an abandoned playground about a 10-minute walk from the family's home. Tiny footprints in the snow suggest she had gotten up and wandered around before she died, police said.

Her father, William Lorenzo Page, 23, of Braddock, was arrested Wednesday on charges of criminal homicide, kidnapping, false reports, and simple assault. He has been in custody since Sunday, when he was charged with sexually abusing a child shortly before Nyia died.

Page, who did not have a lawyer at his arraignment yesterday, was jailed without bond.

Page told police he woke up early Saturday and found the girl awake and playing near a mirror in the hallway, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday night. He said he got mad when the girl wouldn't go back to bed and hit her so hard that she struck her head and was unconscious, the complaint said.

Police said Page told them he took the girl outside wrapped in a blanket and left her, still breathing, beside railroad tracks near a bridge.

Police said a T-shirt, a pair of women's underwear, and a Pittsburgh Steelers "Terrible Towel," all found in Page's basement, appeared to be stained with dried blood.

An autopsy determined that Nyia died of hypothermia, but the Allegheny County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide because investigators said it was unreasonable to assume the child had made it alone to the playground, which is on a wooded knoll. The toddler would have had to have climbed 17 snowy steps to get there.

Authorities could only guess how long Nyia, wearing only a sweater and a diaper, could have survived in temperatures that hovered around 2 degrees Saturday morning.

"Given her size, she would have been rendered incapacitated very quickly," Dr. Karl E. Williams, Allegheny County medical examiner, said yesterday. "She'd been out so long, when we found her she was frozen."

A witness saw Page enter his house Saturday morning from the direction where his daughter was found, police said. He was back out on the street about an hour later, saying he was looking for the girl and telling the witness, "Somebody took my daughter," according to a criminal complaint.

Nyia's mother told police she last saw the girl after Nyia tried to crawl into bed with her parents about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The mother told police she put the youngster back into her own bed in an upstairs room.

Police, emergency crews, and bloodhounds searched in 20-degree temperatures for most of two days before finding the little girl's body.

The sexual abuse charge against Page was made as police investigated Nyia's disappearance.