A Florida mother and her boyfriend were arrested after the woman’s 3-year-old daughter was found dead in a wooded area on Friday, police said.
Destinee Merrell, 23, told police that her boyfriend, Cory M. Hagwell, 29, kicked the child in the head because she had climbed out of her car seat, Fox News reported.
The toddler, who police identified as Adelynn Merrell, was then locked in a closet in the master bedroom of their home, where she died, the station reported. Her body was later found in the woods, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
The couple initially reported the child missing, but police said the mother later divulged what allegedly happened, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported.
Authorities said the 3-year-old suffered head trauma but they are waiting on autopsy results to determine an official cause of death, reports said.
Authorities said that a 5-year-old boy in Merrell’s care was also found to be suffering malnutrition and had “bones in all regions of his body exposed.”
Merrell faces three counts of child neglect and one count of aggravated child battery. Hagwell faces one count of aggravated child abuse.
More charges are forthcoming, reports said.