Authorities say it appeared her body was tied to a crib with a jump rope and twine. Pierce weighed only 15 pounds, which is the typical weight of a 3-month old baby.
"I didn't see the baby come out," neighbor Temmy Omofonnwan said. "I didn't hear no ambulances. I just seen a bunch of cruisers and...cars and stuff like that."
Police say Pierce was so emaciated that her bones were sticking out. They also said she had trauma to her arms, ankles and wrists.
They say the child's mother, Carlola Pierce, waited three hours before she called 911 for her unresponsive daughter.
"It's hard to imagine anything criminal happened because of the way this lady is," neighbor James Kinsey said. "She couldn't have been a better mother."
"How the way she treats her other two sons, like, I wouldn't expect that from her," Omofonnwan said.
The toddler had a pre-existing medical condition that required her to use an oxygen tank. Police found it next her crib, but it was not in use.
"If them damn medical problems didn't cause that little girl's death, I don't give a damn who did it," Kinsey said. "They should be held responsible for that."
An autopsy was planned for Friday as police continued to investigate the circumstances of the death.
To read an update to this story where the mother has now been charged, go to http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=7648873.