9-year-old forced to run for 3 hours as punishment, dies

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Savannah Hardin, 9, died after grandmother and stepmother forced her to run for hours on end. Photo via Etowah County Sheriff's Office.

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.


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  • halligator

    That’ll show her.Bet she doesn’t lie anymore.

    • tbarnes

      Your a total idiot!!

      • ..It was obviously a sarcastic joke.

      • Krista

        It’s YOU’RE a total idiot!! IDIOT!!!!!

    • Nina Zaffita

      au contraire: she’s lying permanently now. I get the comment – its highlighting the idiocy of these heartless sickos who probably enjoyed torturing her and i’ll bet that wasn’t the first time she was given sadistic punishments for behaving as children do. ‘Like a kid in a candy shop’ is the saying. Maybe she lied because she was scared shitless of telling the truth? that’s what these fucking idiots who kill kids dont realise – chill out on your kids and they will trust you with the truth!if its so important to you. Bit of reverse psychology???

  • Wow… and you need a license to have a dog these days… Idiots everywhere are allowed to care for children.

  • Aww. So sorry Savannah. =0(. Really heartbreaking to read.

  • Tim Bailey

    @halligator:disqus I hope one day this happens to someone you love so we can laugh and crack jokes……@$$Hole….