Cocaine using mother and boyfriend held for murdering disabled girl, 4, found dead in drawer in South Carolina
ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA: A South Carolina couple has been arrested and charged in connection to the horrific death of a four-year-old special needs girl found "stuffed in a drawer."
The incident came to light after police responded to the Gentle Breeze Lane, Rock Hill, home of Jackleen Mullen, 23, and her boyfriend Audrevious Williams, 26, at around 11:30 pm on Tuesday, May 26, over concerns about a young girl, according to WRBL.
When detectives questioned Mullen about the girl, later identified as her four-year-old daughter India, the 23-year-old said she was staying with family. However, when they conducted a search of the residence, they found the girl dead in the couple's bedroom in a dressing drawer.
The child, who was physically handicapped and had special needs, reportedly showed signs of blunt force trauma and respiratory distress. Investigators said they uncovered evidence at the home that connected the couple to India's death but did not elaborate further.
Channel 9 reported that Mullen had previously been charged with unlawful conduct toward a child after prematurely giving birth to a baby that later tested positive for cocaine -- the child was the same one found dead this past week. She was sentenced to just two years probation for the same.
Speaking about the case, Mary Clark, the president of the local homeowners association said she was "devastated" by the news and that she now wants to start a neighborhood crime watch program. "It’s just sad. I feel bad for the family," she said.
Tiara Jean Mendiola, who also lives nearby, similarly expressed outrage at the young child's death. "That’s just like the last thing you should expect from people who are supposed to protect you, you know?" she said. "It just hurts my heart."
The couple was charged with homicide by abuse or neglect in India's death and were denied bond during a hearing on Wednesday, May 27.
In court, Mullen was pictured with tears in her eyes. She and her boyfriend were both appointed public defenders and appeared separately. Neither said much and were ordered not to have any contact with their three other young children.
Williams has two kids, aged one and seven, who are with the Department of Social Services. Mullen has another four-year-old who is currently staying with relatives.
They were denied bond on request of a detective, who told the judge they had both "shared extreme indifference to the child’s life and well-being." The detective said that, when Mullen was told her daughter was dead, she "showed no emotion or empathy."
"Officers were able to make contact with those family members, who confirmed India was not with them at the time,” Det. Keenan McCrorey said in court. "Mullen showed no emotion when confronted with this information, and continued to insist India was in North Carolina."
Mullen and Williams are expected to be assigned their court dates in two weeks and face anywhere between 20 years to life in prison if convicted.