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SEARCY -- The mother of a slain toddler pleaded innocent Tuesday to threatening a child-welfare worker.

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Tanya Drummond, 26, of Searcy was arrested in April on a charge of second-degree terrorist threatening, a misdemeanor.

White County District Judge Mark Pate set Drummond's trial for Sept. 22.

Drummond is the mother of 2-year-old Malik Drummond, whose father -- Jeffery Clifton, 43, of Searcy -- pleaded no contest in May to second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse.

Malik and his twin sister, Aryanna, lived with their mother but had been visiting Clifton at the time of Malik's disappearance in November 2014.

Joe Jernigan, a court-appointed special advocate, told investigators that he was following Drummond and her mother after a court session in January when he heard them talking about Tiffany Wright, an employee of the state Department of Human Services.

According to a police affidavit, Jernigan told police that Drummond said Wright had taken Drummond's "first child" and that "she won't do that to anyone else, I'm going to take her down." In a subsequent phone conversation with Drummond, Jernigan said Drummond discussed "losing her first child and [said] that Mrs. Wright was her caseworker that removed the child."

"Mrs. Drummond then stated, 'I hate Tiffany's guts and she won't do that to me again, even if I have to bring someone in to take care of her,'" the affidavit said.

The affidavit did not identify the child. An online obituary for Malik gave the name of only one sibling, Aryanna.

Clifton was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Malik's beating death. Authorities said Clifton disposed of the toddler's body in a vacant lot in neighboring Jackson County. He had initially told investigators that Malik had wandered away from home.

State Desk on 06/15/2016

Print Headline: In caseworker threat, trial is set for mother

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