Who was Serenity McKinney? Mom, boyfriend arrested after missing 4-year-old's body found

Serenity was reported missing more than a year later by her grandparents


                            Who was Serenity McKinney? Mom, boyfriend arrested after missing 4-year-old's body found
(L-R) Dakota Hill, Serenity McKinney and Catherine McKinney (Shelby County Detention Center and Dave Justice/Facebook)
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SHELBY COUNTY, TENNESSEE: Police have found the body of a four-year-old girl from Kentucky who went missing more than a year ago. The girl’s mother and her live-in boyfriend have now been charged with her murder. Serenity McKinney's remains were discovered on Friday, February 18, along a winding road in Kentucky. She went missing on December 24, 2020. 

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Not much is known about Serenity, except that she was reported missing more than a year later by her grandparents. Before that, her mother Catherine, 21, has skipped town and cut off contact with family members. She also refused to cooperate with police.

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Serenity was last seen at the family's home in Shelby County, about an hour from the location where her body was found. Catherine and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Dakota Hill, have been charged with murder, and abuse of the preschooler's corpse. They are currently in police custody.

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Serenity’s grandparents reported her missing after Catherine cut off contact with them and kept telling them the girl was okay. The family was unable to get in touch with the child for over a year. “This is out of her character,” step-grandmother Aundrea Wainscott was quoted as saying. “She had gotten back in contact with us through messenger, pretty much saying they’re OK, but still wouldn’t let us talk to Serenity or show us Serenity.”

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Police said that Catherine refused to cooperate with them when they contacted her. Earlier this year, she left the family's Shelby County home and was arrested along with her boyfriend last week and extradited to Kentucky. They remained there when Serenity’s body was found.

The child’s body was transferred by the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office to the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office in Louisville. An autopsy took place on Saturday morning, February 19, but the results have not been released yet.

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Days before her body was discovered, Serenity’s father, Dave Justice, received a message from an unidentified person claiming to know where his daughter was. ”I know someone who knows where your daughter is,” the first message read. His second message was, “From what I kno, she's in a suitcase.” Justice then informed the Shelby County Sheriff's Office about the interaction. 

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"It was the worst thing anyone could possibly hear in my shoes," Justice said. "I think it is an account being used kind of as like a patsy for the real person, but I cant say who it is for sure, but I believe she knows who has her." He noted that the sender was a woman. However, it is not clear if Serenity’s body was really found in a suitcase. 

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