When Charisse Stinson reported her 2-year-old son missing in Largo, Fla., on Sunday, she told the police that a man who had offered her a ride had beaten her unconscious and taken her child.
But on Tuesday night, the police offered a different explanation. They said at a news conference that Ms. Stinson, 21, had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. They released few details, citing the continuing investigation, and said more information would be released Wednesday morning.
Earlier Tuesday, officials called off an Amber Alert for the child, Jordan Belliveau, after his body was found in a wooded area in Largo, near Lake Avenue and McMullen Road. It was unclear what led them to the body.
Lt. Randall Chaney of the Largo Police Department said in an interview on Tuesday night that Ms. Stinson had been booked in the Pinellas County Jail and had been interviewed. An autopsy of Jordan is scheduled for Wednesday.
The police had been searching for Jordan since Sunday. Ms. Stinson had told them that she and Jordan had been walking from her apartment to a friend’s house around 9:30 p.m. Saturday in Largo when a man, who she said was named Antwan, offered them a ride in a white Toyota Camry.
It was a long way to her friend’s house and Jordan was heavy, so she accepted, Ms. Stinson said.
She told the authorities that shortly afterward, he struck her in the face several times, and when she regained consciousness, it was 1:30 a.m. on Sunday and her child was gone. She said she left the park where she had woken up and walked to a nearby hotel to call 911.
Her report set off a two-day search that involved several law enforcement agencies. The sketch of “Antwan,” who Ms. Stinson said had dreadlocks and gold teeth, was widely shared on social media. The police appealed to the public to share any information or video footage they had, releasing a picture of a white car with a painted grill.
Divers and dogs were involved. The search spanned wooded areas, apartment complexes and even dumpsters.
The police had verified that Jordan had been seen last Friday and they had footage of Ms. Stinson in the park in the early hours of Sunday. But dozens of tips yielded no big break.
The boy’s father, also named Jordan Belliveau, told The Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday morning — before the body was found — that he did not believe Ms. Stinson’s story.
And questions about the mother swirled. Reporters pushed the police for more information about Ms. Stinson, who was described as “overwhelmed” by Maj. Stephen Slaughter of the Largo police. “She is a struggling single mother,” Major Slaughter said at a news conference Monday.
After it was revealed on Monday that bloody items had been found in the family’s apartment, Major Slaughter said that the bloodied items could have been the result of an accident in which the child fell and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches.
Jessica Belliveau, Jordan’s grandmother, spoke on “Good Morning Tampa Bay” on Monday, saying that she was devastated by his disappearance.
“He’s happy, he’s playful,” she said. “He runs around, he’s always blowin’ kisses to somebody.”