A Florida woman told police in Crestview that her live-in boyfriend kicked her 3-year-old daughter in the head as punishment for getting out of her car seat.
Adelynn Merrell was then locked in a bedroom closet, where she died. Her body was later found in the woods, resulting in charges against both Destinee J. Merrell, 23, and her boyfriend, Cory M. Hagwell, 29. Both are being held in the Okaloosa County Jail, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.
The girl’s body was found Friday afternoon. She had suffered apparent head trauma, but the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause and manner of death.
The couple called deputies earlier that day to report the 3-year-old missing. They said they last saw her playing in the backyard.
An intense search was conducted, but Merrell later confessed that Hagwell kicked her daughter in the head and locked her in a closet Thursday night because she had “gotten out of her car seat,” police said.
The mother was charged because she took part in locking her daughter in the closet, police said. Police also reportedly found a 5-year-old boy in her care suffering from malnutrition with “bones in all regions of his body exposed.”
Merrell faces three counts of child neglect without great bodily harm and one count of aggravated child battery. Hagwell was arrested on one count of aggravated child abuse. More charges are expected, the sheriff’s office said