Mother, boyfriend charged in Okaloosa County toddler’s death

Author: AP
Destinee J. Merrell, 23, and Cory M. Hagwell, 29. (Mugshots via CBS12/Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office)

CRESTVIEW, Fla. (AP) Authorities say the mother of a 3-year-old Florida girl and her boyfriend are facing charges after the girl’s body was found dumped in a wooded area.

The Northwest Florida Daily News reported Saturday that police say 3-year-old Adelynn Merrell died after the boyfriend kicked her in the head as punishment for getting out of her car seat.

Investigators say the mother, 23-year-old Destinee J. Merrell, is jailed on three counts of child neglect and one count of aggravated child battery. The boyfriend, 29-year-old Cory M. Hagwell, faces one count of aggravated child abuse.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says additional charges are likely. It wasn’t clear Saturday if Merrell or Hagwell had hired lawyers.

The couple initially reported the girl as missing. Investigators say Merrell eventually told them what happened.

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