A three year old Crestview child was found dumped in woods east of Crestview Friday after the toddler’s mother confessed that her live-in boyfriend had killed the little girl while punishing her for getting out of her car seat.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was called to 4700 Bobolink Way around 12:30 Friday after three year old Adelynn Merrell was reported missing by the couple. They said they’d last seen her playing in the back yard. An intense search was conducted but 23-year old Destinee Merrell then told OCSO investigators her boyfriend, 29-year old Cory Hagwell, had kicked the little girl in the head and locked her in a closet in the master bedroom as punishment the evening of November 9th, because she had “gotten out of her car seat”.
An OCSO deputy found Adelynn’s body in a wooded area off Palmetto Avenue around 4:30 p.m. November 10th. She had apparent head trauma, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause and manner of death.
Hagwell is charged at this time with aggravated child abuse.
The toddler’s mother, 23-year old Desiree Merrell is currently charged with aggravated child abuse and three counts of child neglect. Investigators say she took part in locking Adelynn in the closet.
The OCSO also had another child in Merrell’s care taken to the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center yesterday for a wellness exam where a doctor found the five year old suffers from malnutrition, weighing less than 33 pounds, with “bones in all regions of his body exposed.”
In addition, Investigators determined Merrell had left Adelynn and another child alone and locked in a room in their home on September 1st. The youngsters broke out a window and were found by neighbors.
The investigation is continuing.
Navarre Newspaper reminds our readers that Cory Hagwell and Desiree Merrell are presumed to innocent until found guilty in a court of law.