How Did Kiera and Darby Die? Grandma Is on Mission for Justice

Cheryl Hodges is on a mission to find out what happened to her grandchildren. She believes the culprit is Codey Cummings, who was dating the children's mother, Julia Hodges, at the time.

Cheryl Hodges is on a mission to find out what happened to her grandchildren.

Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero hit the road with her as she seeks justice in the deaths of 18-month-old Darby Hodges and 4-year-old Kiera Pulaski, who died within 10 weeks of each other in 2010. 

"My grandchildren were murdered," Cheryl said.

No one has been charged and no suspects have been named in connection with the children’s deaths. Cheryl believes the culprit is Codey Cummings, who was dating the children's mother, Julia Hodges, at the time and is now married to her. Cheryl is the mother of Darby's father and said she considers herself Kiera's stepgrandma.

"Codey was there the night both children were injured," said Cheryl. "I believe Codey killed both of the children."

Darby died in Kalispell, Montana, in June 2010. An autopsy ruled the cause and manner of death to be undetermined. But the medical examiner noted in the report that Darby had two broken ribs and multiple contusions at the time of his passing.

Kiera, Darby's half-sister, died just 10 weeks later, hundreds of miles away in Republic, Missouri, where Cummings, Julia and the girl had moved following Darby's death. Her autopsy noted that she had severe head trauma. Cummings and Julia reportedly said she'd slipped in the bathroom, but according to the autopsy, Kiera's injuries were too severe to be caused by a simple fall.

Police in Missouri, aware of Darby's passing, opened an investigation into Kiera's death, but in the decade since no arrests have been made. 

Just the movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," Cheryl is on a mission to get officials to take action. 

"The only time they ever do anything is when I rattle their cage," she said. 

First, she and Guerrero headed to speak with Tom Van De Berg, chief investigator for the Greene County Medical Examiner in Missouri.

"She had an obvious head injury which caused her death," he said of Kiera. 

Next, they went to the prosecutor's office, where Guerrero remained outside. Cheryl emerged looking just as discouraged as before. 

"I was getting the run-around the whole time," Cheryl said. 

Guerrero and Cheryl also went to Montana, where Darby died. There, they caught up with Julia, the children's mother. 

"Did you kill the kids or did Codey kill the kids?" Cheryl asked Julia. "Darby and Kiera, who did it? Tell us, be honest." Julia did not answer Guerrero’s or Cheryl’s questions.

They also spoke to Cummings himself, who was not pleased to see them and even hit Guerrero's hand and microphone.  

"Sir, don't touch me," she said. 

"Get the f*** out of my face, b****," said Cummings. 

Cummings is no stranger to law enforcement — Inside Edition found a warrant out for his arrest for aggravated assault for an unrelated case.

When Guerrero pressed Cummings on whether he had anything to do with the children's deaths, Cummings didn't answer.

"Did you kill Darby and Kiera?" Guerrero asked. 

"Oh yeah, f*** off, dumb a**," Cummings said sarcastically.

Guerrero then asked, “Can you explain why Darby had broken ribs and why Kiera had head injuries?”  

Cummings replied, “Do your research, dumb a**.”

Both Cummings and Julia deny any involvement in the children's deaths. 

For her part, Cheryl regularly visits the children's graves, hoping that some day soon she will get justice for the little ones. 

"I want to get justice for them and that's my mission, from now until I die," she said.