Toddler dies after punishment for getting out of car seat, deputies say

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- A Florida toddler is dead after her mother’s boyfriend reportedly punished her for getting out of her car seat.

The body of three-year-old Adelynn Merrell was found in a wooded area in Okaloosa County after deputies say her mother and her boyfriend reported the child missing.

During the search, deputies say the child’s mother, 23-year-old Destinee Merrell, told them that her boyfriend, 29-year-old Cory Hagwell, had killed the child.

She reportedly told deputies that Hagwell kicked the child in the head and locked her in a closet on Thursday night.

When the child was found, she had apparent head trauma. An autopsy will be conducted to find her cause of death.

Both Hagwell and Merrell were arrested. Hagwell is charged with aggravated child abuse. Merrell is charged with aggravated child abuse and three counts of child neglect. Investigators say she took part in locking the child in the closet.

There was another child in the home – a five-year-old boy who doctors say suffered from malnutrition, weighing less than 33 pounds.

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