Search for missing mom's body

January 21, 2008 5:43:00 PM PST
The search of Pennsauken Creek for the body of a 17-year-old will resume on Tuesday. For a second day, officials combed the creek in Cinnaminson, about 12 miles from Philadelphia across the Delaware River, looking for the body of Felicia Mikels, a 17-year-old girl from Pennsauken who authorities say was beaten to death over the weekend.

But freezing cold temperatures hampered their work, said New Jersey State Police spokesman, Sgt. Stephen Jones. The search was ended for the day by early Monday afternoon.

"The ice is preventing the divers from going into the water anymore," Jones said. He said the state police used sonar to look for the woman's body while dogs patrolled the river banks.

Mikels left her Pennsauken house on Friday evening with her five-week-old daughter. At 1:00 Saturday morning when Mikels didn't come home, her family reported her missing to police. At 7:00 a.m. the infant, Miciana Ramos, was found bundled in a car seat on a Cherry Hill lawn by passerby. Mikels family saw the report of the abandoned baby on television and before long police drew the connection.

Camden County prosecutor Jos Ottenberg said Felicia Mikels was lured first to a bowling alley and then to a parking lot where she was beaten to death with a piece of wood.

The alleged killer is 25-year-old Douglas Mandichak of Maple Shade. His alleged accomplice was Felicia's uncle, 26-year-old Christopher Mikels. The prosecutor says Mikels indicated he may be the baby's father. DNA tests are being done. Authorities say the motive for the murder was money.

Felicia Mikels' body was thrown into the Pennsauken Creek in Cinnaminson along with a baby stroller, which has been recovered. The prosecutor says at one point Mandichak was going to kill the infant, but changed his mind. The infant is back with Felicia's family under state supervision.

Police say Chris Mikels sent himself a phone text message pretending it was from Felicia and that she was running away. Both men made confessions to police, authorities said.

Bail has been set at $750,000 for both men.