PHOENIX, ARIZONA (BNO NEWS) — Four people have been arrested in relation to a 10-year-old girl who died after being stuffed in a footlocker as punishment for taking a popsicle from the refrigerator, local media reported on Friday.
John and Samantha Allen, both 23, Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and Judith Deal, 72, were all arrested on Wednesday night after the death of 10-year-old Ame Deal was reported, the Arizona Republic reported, adding that disturbing details have been discovered throughout the investigation.
According to court documents, Ame Deal had been punished for taking a frozen popsicle from the refrigerator and was forced to do backbends for around two hours as punishment. She was later forced to run in the yard under the summer heat, which recorded 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) that day. Finally, the little girl was padlocked inside a small footlocker measuring 31 by 14 by 12 inches and left inside overnight, while the adults went to bed.
Police were informed the following morning and her body was found on July 12. Authorities had initially been informed that Ame Deal was playing hide-and-seek until late at night and apparently locked herself inside. Further investigations revealed that John Allen had locked Ame Deal in the footlocker as his wife Samantha stood by. They left her there while they went to sleep.
According to court records, the footlocker had been previously used to punish Ame Deal for several reasons, including wetting the bed. After locking her in, the adults would pick it up and spin it around or roll the footlocker across the floor. On one occasion, a neighbor heard screams from the footlocker while Cynthia Stoltzmann sat on top of it, using a laptop computer.
Ame Deal would also be beaten with a board and forced to sleep in the shower without blankets or pillows, the Arizona Republic added. Neighbors said they had not called the police because they had not witnessed any physical abuse although they would occasionally hear screams. In addition, children, including toddlers, would stay outside playing until late hours at night and up to 2 a.m. local time.
David Deal, 51, is the victim’s father and also lives in the house, but he has declined to comment in relation to the case. Stoltzmann is Samantha Allen’s mother, who is Ame Deal’s aunt. Meanwhile, Judith Deal is Stoltzmann mother. In total, at least 12 children were living with the four adults, who, according to court records, lived in Ogden, Utah from 2006 to 2010 before moving to Arizona. Previously, they lived in Midland, Texas and Racine, Wisconsin.
Previous state records had listed Ame Deal as an abused and neglected child and she might have been the only child who was being punished at the home. The Allens are expected to face first-degree murder charges, while Stoltzmann and Deal are expected to be charged with kidnapping and child-abuse.
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