PHOENIX— Today Phoeteama Neal (D.O.B. 02/10/1986) was sentenced to Natural Life for 1st Degree Murder. Neal pled guilty on January 17th to the murder involving the intentional drowning of her 20-month old daughter Victoria.
“Today’s sentencing seeks justice for a murder, however nothing can ever change the pain inflicted on those who loved this innocent little girl,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The acts of this defendant were both intentional and cruel. No child should ever have to suffer this way, especially at the hands of a person they trusted to love and care for them.”
Before the murder, Neal was a non-commissioned officer stationed at Luke Air Force Base and had requested a transfer out of the country. The evidence indicated she requested the transfer to take her daughter away from the child’s biological father who was also in the Air Force. Neal recently had lost a custody case to Victoria’s father and would have to share custody with the father while Neal went overseas.
On August 18, 2014 Neal learned of the custody ruling and tried to cancel her transfer. Neal’s supervisors explained they would look into it. Neal took the rest of the day off and picked Victoria up from daycare. Neal drove right home with Victoria. Investigators were able to show that Neal then filled a bathtub with water and took Victoria, fully clothed, and placed her in the tub. Neal then held Victoria underwater for a prolonged period of time. Afterward, Neal called 911 saying she had drowned her child.
Victoria was taken to a nearby hospital and remained on life support for several weeks before her death. Investigators found internet search histories indicating Neal had been researching drownings. They also found several writings by Neal that indicated she had planned to kill Victoria before August 18th.