OCSO: Kick to the head killed three-year-old girl - FOX10 News | WALA

OCSO: Kick to the head killed three-year-old girl

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Cory Hagwell and Destinee Merrell (Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office) Cory Hagwell and Destinee Merrell (Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office)
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. -

Investigators have determined what killed a three-year-old girl in Northwest Florida. 

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said Adelynn Merrell died from a skull fracture. Detectives said the boyfriend of the little girl's mother kicked the child in the back of the head. 

Cory Hagwell, 29, is charged with first-degree murder. Adelynn's mother, 23-year-old Destinee Merrell, is charged with accessory after the fact to murder. 

On Friday, the sheriff's office was called to Merrell's home in Crestview after the couple reported the three-year-old missing. According to deputies, Hagwell and Merrell said they had last seen Adelynn playing in the backyard and believed she had been kidnapped. 

During the search for the child, deputies said Merrell appeared calm and unemotional. They said she later confessed that Hagwell, her live-in boyfriend, had kicked the little girl in the head, locked her in a closet, and then dumped the child's body in the woods after she died.

Investigators said they interviewed a child who was in the home when the abuse happened. Detectives said on Thursday night, the child saw Hagwell kick Adelynn in the head while she was playing.

In an interview at the Okaloosa County Jail, Merrell said her daughter started crying around 6:30 a.m. Friday. She said Hagwell got up and started yelling at the child. Merrell then heard a loud thump and two doors closing. She didn't check on her daughter until around 11:30 a.m. That's when she opened a closet door and found Adelynn dead. Detectives said Merrell told them she and Hagwell came up with the kidnapping story and called the sheriff's office an hour later. 

According to investigators, Merrell told them Hagwell lost his job about a month ago and began abusing Adelynn. Merrell described hearing thuds and the sounds of Adelynn crying fifteen to sixteen times over that period. She said Hagwell would also withhold food from Adelynn and put her in the closet for extended periods of time.  

Both Merrell and Hagwell are being held without bond at the Okaloosa County Jail. 

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