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Family members remember their 'Little Peanut'

Murdered girl's father charged with torture

Samiah Christine Cornell Downing's big eyes opened even wider when her family took her to Chuck E. Cheese's.

The girl ran around the arcade area, getting on rides and scurrying through tunnels, said Christopher Downing, her grandfather, whom she called “Papa.”

“She’s a happy little girl. She loves to play, loves to eat, just like all other children,” Downing said, his tone reserved as he talked about “Little Peanut,” a nickname he gave Samiah.

The 4-year-old girl was found murdered in a shallow desert grave last month. Prosecutors charged her father, his girlfriend and the girlfriend’s cousin with murder, torture and assault on a child causing death.

Members of Samiah’s mother’s side of the family, including Downing, said they never expected such a horrific tragedy to happen to their beloved girl. Authorities have so far released only limited information on Samiah’s death.

Born on Valentine’s Day, Samiah lived with her mother, grandmother and aunt, Lori Kubasiak, Samiah’s great-aunt, said.

“I’ll always remember she always had a smile on her face,” Kubasiak said. “She was kind of shy and bashful when she meets people for the first time. But she was always smiling, happy and really playful.”

Kubasiak said she last saw Samiah on Christmas in 2011. Samiah got a lot of presents, Kubasiak said. After Samiah ripped the gifts open, she gave hugs to her family and thanked them.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials began to investigate the disappearance of Downing on Dec. 27.

According to Kubasiak, Ronald Dean Greer, Samiah’s 21-year- old father, was pulled over with his other child in the car. When he was asked where his other child was, he said she was with her mother, Kubasiak said. But Samiah’s mother told officers the girl was supposed to be with Greer, according to Kubasiak.

Investigators interviewed Greer and his 19-year-old girlfriend, Bianca Annie Mae Stanch, and searched their former residence in Adelanto. Following the interview, sheriff's officials found Downing’s body in a shallow grave near Baker.

According to the District Attorney’s complaint, the crime occurred on or about Dec. 15.

Samiah’s mother had a full-time job and was raising her daughter at her grandmother’s house, Kubasiak said. Samiah began spending time with Greer because her mother wanted Greer to get involved in Samiah’s life, Kubasiak said. But Greer started not giving Samiah back, according to Kubasiak.

Kubasiak, along with her sister and Downing, created a memorial page on Facebook titled “Samiah Christine Downing Memorial.” “We want her to be remembered and for people to remember that she was loved and taken good care by our family, that she wasn’t abandoned with these people,” Kubasiak said. The defendants are next scheduled to appear in Victorville court Thursday for a pre-preliminary hearing.

Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or TShimura@VVDailyPress.com. Follow Tomoya on Facebook at facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.

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