DETROIT - D'Andre Lane is serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of his daughter, Bianca Jones.
In 2011, Lane told police that the 2-year-old girl was kidnapped by carjackers. Police and a jury didn't believe him, but the Local 4 Defenders have spoken to witnesses who said they saw Bianca alive after the time police said she had died.
Lane spoke with the Defenders in an exclusive interview from behind prison walls.
"No one has evidence that my daughter is dead," Lane said. "My daughter is alive. She is missing. She will be found."
Six years later, Lane is still locked up, and he still insists he didn't kill Bianca.
"Imagine if you were a victim of a crime and you got charged with the crime," Lane said. "And because you got charged with a crime, there was nobody out there trying to find the truth."
Lane is pleading with whoever has his daughter to return her. An age progression photo by Phojoe.com shows what she would look like today, at 8 years old.
"Just let her go," Lane said. "Just bring her back home. Let her come home. She's not your child. She's my child. She has a mother and siblings that love her, and they want to see her again. She has a family that has been waiting the longest to see her, and we want to put an end to all of this."
Bianca disappeared Dec. 2, 2011. Lane put her in his car and drove his nephew to school. Police said the baby was beaten to death the night before with a stick, as punishment for wetting the bed. They said she was dead when Lane put her in the car.
After dropping his nephew off at school, Lane said, he was carjacked.
"I was a victim of a carjacking," Lane said. "When they took the car, my daughter was in the car. When they found the car, she was no longer in the car."
Police said he was never carjacked. They believe he put Bianca's body in a dumpster and made up a story that didn't hold up when police retraced his steps through cellphone records.
"Once they realized that he spent 17 minutes east of Woodward (Avenue), unaccounted for, they tried to halt the trash pickup in that area, but it was too late," Judge Qiana Lillard, a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor, said. "The trash had already been picked up."
Bianca's body was never found, and there were no eyewitnesses. Police hired a dog handler named Martin Grime, from Europe, and he flew to Detroit with a cadaver dog to inspect the crime scene.
"We had five hits -- the back seat, the car seat, the blanket, her bed and the truck of the car," retired Detroit police Officer Lori Dillon said. "At that point, when our hearts sunk, we're, like, 'We're not finding this little girl.'"
"The reason that I'm in here right now is because of a dog, not because of any evidence," Lane said. "Not because of any facts, but a dog."
Lane said there are still no eyewitnesses to say Bianca is dead, but there are witnesses who said they have seen her alive.
A police officer said she saw Bianca eight days after her disappearance during an unrelated domestic violence call. A private investigator said he saw her at the same house nine months later, disguised as a boy.
Police searched the home, but Bianca wasn't there.
"There's nobody, period, who said that she's deceased," Lane said. "This is all a story concocted by the prosecutors and the Police Department."
Police said Lane's story doesn't make sense.
"It's not unusual for carjackers to steal cars, and when they realize there is a baby inside, what do they do? They always bring the baby back," Lillard said.
The jury agreed, and Lane was convicted. The search for Bianca came to a stop.
"This is important," Lane said. "This is a child. This is my child. You know, I want her home. Her mother wants her home."
"I've always maintained that my daughter's out there," Banika Jones, Bianca's mother, said.
Jones believes Lane and the witnesses. She thinks her daughter is still alive.
ORIGINAL REPORT: Bianca's mother pleads for public to keep searching for daughter
"We need to be looking more," Jones said. "We need to be looking harder. We need to be looking to cast a wider net."
Lane is serving a mandatory life sentence for the murder conviction. The only way he could get out is if Bianca is found.
Judge Vonda Evans will speak publicly about the case for the first time at 5 p.m. Friday on Local 4 News.
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