Mother, boyfriend charged in 3-year-old Florida girl's death


When police were called to the home of 19-year-old Cory Hagwell and 23-year-old Destinee Merrell on November 10, they were told Merrell's daughter, 3-year-old Adelynn Merrell went missing while playing in their backyard in Crestview, Florida.

A Florida man has been charged with murder after his girlfriend told the authorities that the 29-year-old kicked her three-year-old daughter in the head, killing the toddler, as punishment for getting out of her vehicle seat.

When the child was found, she had apparent head trauma.

Adelynn's body was found dumped in the woods east of Crestview off Palmetto Avenue around 4:30 p.m. EST Friday.

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Deputies said the couple initially claimed to have last seen Adelynn playing in their backyard, but Merrell later confessed that Hagwell had kicked the girl in the head and locked her in the master bedroom closet Thursday evening because she had "gotten out of her vehicle seat".

An autopsy revealed she had a possible skull fracture on the back of the head caused by blunt force, according to NBC News affiliate WJHG-TV. Investigators said the 5-year-old boy weighed less than 33 pounds with the "bones in all regions of his body exposed". Merrell described hearing thuds and the sounds of Adelynn crying fifteen to sixteen times over that period.

In an interview at the Okaloosa County Jail, Merrell said the abuse happened around 6:30 a.m., but she reportedly never checked on Adelynn in the closet until around 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Merrell and Hagwell are being held without bond at the Okaloosa County Jail.

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As they continued to talk to her, the mother-of-three eventually confessed that Hagwell had kicked Adelynn in the head and locked her in a closet, before burying the child's body to the woods.

According to Hagwell, he said he last saw the girl in a bedroom closet on the floor and not talking.

Investigators said Merrell told them that Hagwell lost his job about a month ago and started to become more violent toward Adelynn. Neighbors found the children after they escaped by breaking a window. Additional charges could be filed after autopsy results are received.

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