The apartment complex off U.S. Route 1 in Edgecomb where first responders found Makinzlee Handrahan unresponsive on Christmas morning. Staff photo by Rachel Ohm.

It took only three days for state police to rule the death of 3-year-old Makinzlee Handrahan a homicide. But more than three months later, family members are still waiting for answers.

“My daughter deserves justice,” Makinzlee’s father, Henry Handrahan, told the Press Herald. “And I believe it should be swifter.”

Police have not released a cause of death for Makinzlee, who was found unresponsive and not breathing in her Edgecomb apartment around 7:30 a.m. on Christmas day. Nor have they named any suspects or charged anyone. The only adults known to be in the home were Makinzlee’s mother, Faith Lewis, and Lewis’ then-boyfriend, Tyler Witham-Jordan.

Revealing too much information to the public, including information on when charges could be filed, could hinder prosecution, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety said in an email.

“We simply don’t comment on an ongoing investigation or give details on specific elements of progress,” Shannon Moss wrote. “Every case is so different. Some take days, some weeks, months and even decades.”

Yet for those personally impacted by Makinzlee’s death, the lack of transparency has been painful.


“My family wants answers and closure,” Handrahan said. “It’s not easy.”


Little is known about the circumstances surrounding Makinzlee’s death.

Emergency responders and deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call from Lewis’ apartment in a complex off U.S. Route 1. They brought Makinzlee to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, where she was pronounced dead.

The Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit quickly took over the investigation, which is standard procedure for all child deaths in the state. Over the next few days, investigators asked neighbors whether they’d heard any screaming or banging from Lewis’ apartment, one neighbor told the Press Herald in December.

Two days after Makinzlee’s death, Lewis filed for a protection from abuse order against Witham-Jordan, whom she described as “verbally, mentally and physically abusive.”


“I am scared for my life and my children,” the request read.

Two weeks later, a Wiscasset District Court judge dismissed it at her request, according to the Boothbay Register newspaper. Lewis did not explain the reversal in court. The Press Herald was unable to reach her for this story, and an attorney listed on her protection order, Richard Elliott, did not return a reporter’s calls.

The father of Makinzlee’s two half-brothers, Joseph Herson, filed a separate protection order against Lewis on behalf of the boys on Dec. 29, according to court records. The request was granted and remains in place.

Handrahan said Lewis has shared bits and pieces of what happened Christmas morning and that he does not believe she was responsible for Makinzlee’s death.


As Handrahan has waited in vain for his daughter’s killer to be charged, Witham-Jordan has been equally frustrated according to his attorney.


“We’ve been pretty much in the dark,” said James Howaniec, who said his client adamantly maintains his innocence. “We don’t even know that Tyler is still a subject in this case.”

Howaniec believes a grand jury was seated in March and did not return an indictment. Though he and Witham-Jordan have tried to get clarification from the state Attorney General’s office, they have been met with “radio silence” for months, Howaniec said.

The uncertainty has had “collateral impacts” on Witham-Jordan, who is no longer in a relationship with Lewis, according to Howaniec. The case has limited Witham-Jordan’s ability to work and to see his 8-year-old daughter, though Howaniec wouldn’t explain why.

“His life has been turned upside down by this,” said Howaniec, who said it was “bizarre” prosecutors have been so slow to file charges or drop the case after ruling Makinzlee’s death a homicide so quickly. “This is not right in our minds.”


Handrahan said Lewis shares his desire for closure.


“She’s wanting everything to be answered as well,” he said.

Speculation about the case and why no one has been charged has circulated on social media over the past several months, said Amber Ambrose, a neighbor and friend of Lewis who often babysat Makinzlee.

But while she understands why people are hungry for answers, Ambrose said a speedy conclusion is less important than prosecutors holding the right person accountable.

Even when a resolution comes, she predicted, it will do little to ease the pain of those who knew Makinzlee, whom she described as “literally the perfect kid.”

An arrest would not mean much to Ambrose’s three young children, who were close with Makinzlee and still have days when they can’t stop crying, she said.

And a successful conviction would not help her youngest child, who for months has been afraid to go near Lewis’ apartment or even to walk on the ground outside out of fear he’ll “step on” Makinzlee’s buried body.

“Ultimately, it’s never going to get any better,” said Ambrose, who now rarely sees Lewis around the complex. “It’s just going to be part of our lives forever.”

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