By: Kyle James | 11-12-2017 | News
Photo credit: Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office

Parents Who Killed Their 5-Year-Old Charged After Body Discovered So Malnourished Bones Are Exposed

The lifeless body of a 3-year-old Adelynn Merrell was found dumped in the woods on Friday. The girl's mother, 23-year-old Destinee J. Merrell, and her 29-year-old live-in boyfriend Cory M. Hagwell, have been arrested and charged in connection with the murder.

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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office</span>

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigators said Merrell admitted to the murder and described what happened in an admission to the crime. Merrell described how her boyfriend kicked her daughter in the head and locked in her in the closet as a punishment after climbing out of her car seat.

Deputies responded to the home where the family lived Friday around 12:30 p.m. after the couple called to report the little girl missing. Merrell and Hagwell told police they last saw her playing in the backyard. A massive search ensued until Merrell eventually broke down and told investigators the truth about what happened.

Young Adelynn died after being locked in the closet and her parents hid her body in the woods. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office took another child from the home and the 5-year-old boy was found to suffer from malnutrition and weighed less than 33 pounds with "bones in all regions of his body exposed."

Merrell was booked into jail on 3 counts of child neglect without great bodily harm and one count of aggravated child battery while Hagwell was charged with one count of aggravated child abuse with more charges to follow.

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