A 9-year-old Alabama girl is dead after her grandmother and stepmother allegedly forced her to run for hours on end, without fluids. Police say the girl was ordered to run for 3 hours as punishment for lying to her grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, about eating candy bars. The Etowah County Sheriff’s reports the girls stepmother, Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, was an accomplice in the punishment. Both women were arrested after police determined the girls death to be a homicide. Police say the caregivers ran the little girl until she dropped, forcing her to run laps around their home until she finally collapsed.
The victim, Savannah, died in the hospital on Monday afternoon. Preliminary hospital records cite ‘extreme dehydration’ as the cause of death. The little girl was airlifted to a local children’s hospital after her stepmother witnessed the girl having seizures and becoming unresponsive shortly after the punishment was completed and called 911.
One neighbor told a local news station that he saw the little girl running and although it struck him as odd, he didn’t think she was being forced. Other neighbors were more suspicious and called police who also found the situation abnormal and concerning.
According to Bay News 9, Savannah’s biological father was overseas at the time of the incident, but flew home as soon as he heard the devastating news.
Savannah’s stepmother and grandmother are in jail and at the time of this report, were unable to make the $500,00 set bail after their arrest. The girl’s stepmother also gave birth yesterday, her second biological child from Savannah’s father.