An Indiana man was arrested in connection with the death of a 15-month-old girl whose body was found near a river two days after she mysteriously disappeared from her father’s home, police said.
Little Shaylyn Ammerman was last seen just before midnight on Tuesday evening, when her grandmother looked in on her as she slept.
She had been put to bed by her father, Justin Ammerman, earlier that night.
Shaylyn was found around 6 p.m. Thursday in a remote area of private property near the White River, about nine miles from her home, Indiana State Police said.
The Owen County Coroner’s office ruled the child's death a homicide after determining she was asphyxiated, officials said.
Authorities declined to release further details about the little girl's death, citing the ongoing investigation.
Officials announced Thursday that a friend of the family had been arrested in connection to the little girl’s death.
Kyle Parker, 22, faces multiple charges, including two counts of obstruction of justice, failure to report a dead body and unlawful disposition of a dead body, FOX59 reported.
It was not immediately clear what role Parker—who was at the home the night Shaylyn was last seen and is friends on Facebook with her uncle, Adam Ammerman—allegedly played in the toddler’s death.
“We do know he was in the house that night, but we don’t know where his whereabouts were, we cannot draw a map right now of what happened when he left that house," Durnil said.
Shaylyn’s uncle, grandfather and a friend, believed to be Parker, were said to have stayed up late drinking whiskey and watching television.
Ammerman has denied claims he was having a party on the night of his daughter’s disappearance.
“Please anyone and everybody help me find my baby girl shylyan(sic),” he wrote on Facebook the next day.
“I did i went to bed last night woke up and she was gone,” he replied to a comment on his status. “… [I] will find her and when I do the person that took her will have HELL TO PAY.”
Three or four persons of interest were being looked at in connection to the case, Owen County Sheriff Leonard Sam Hobbs told reporters Friday.
The discovery of the child’s body hit law enforcement officials hard, as Shaylyn's disappearance prompted a search involving more than 100 people. The FBI, Indiana State Police, Spencer Police Department and Owen County Sheriff’s Department were among the agencies investigating.
“It’s a sad day today for this community,” Durnil said. “…When you get all of these agencies together, all the volunteers come together for a common cause, a common goal to find a little girl in this case, you just see a determination in everybody’s eyes. Nobody’s going home, nobody’s going to stop.”
Parker had not made any statements since being taken to Owen County Jail, Hobbs said.
His arrest was only the beginning of what would likely be a lengthy investigation that could take up to months to complete, officials said.
"Let me be really frank here. Please don’t feel like because we’ve found a body and that we’ve made an arrest that this case is anywhere near over,” Durnil said.
“This case is just getting started with more interviews, with more investigative tactics, with everything that we have at our disposal we will use to bring those who are responsible for this little girl’s death to justice."