A mother and her boyfriend were arrested after the woman’s 3-year-old daughter was found deceased in a wooded area on Friday, Nov. 10. They are being detained in a Florida jail.
Destinee J. Merrell, 23, told them that her boyfriend, Cory M. Hagwell, 29, hit the girl in the head after she climbed out of her car seat, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported this week.
The girl was identified later as Adelynn Merrell. She was then locked inside a closet, where she died, police told the paper. They added that the girl was found in the woods.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said the girl suffered serious head trauma. An autopsy will determine the cause of death, Fox reported.
The couple first reported the girl missing, but then, the mother told police what had happened, leading to the charges and arrests.
The newspaper reported that a 5-year-old boy in the woman’s care was reported as suffering from malnutrition and the “bones in all regions of his body exposed.”
Merrell faces three counts of child neglect and a count of aggravated child battery, while Hagwell faces one count of aggravated child abuse.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office noted that additional charges against the pair were likely, The Associated Press reported.
It’s unclear if Merrell or Hagwell have lawyers.