File this one under “Sad, senseless and horrific.”
On November 21, Georgia mother Brittany Nicole Hall reported her autistic eight-year-old daughter, Nicole Amari Hall, missing and told Gwinnett County police that she was last seen wearing a Tweety Bird jacket and blue and white pajamas. But that same night, Nicole’s body was found in the woods about 15 miles away from the hotel where she, her mother, and Brittany’s partner, Celeste Owens, were reportedly staying, according to a press release. Now, Owens and Brittany are both charged with crimes related to Nicole’s death. Those crimes include felony murder.
The New York Daily News reported that Brittany was arrested last week and charged with five counts of first-degree cruelty to children and making a false report of a crime with more charges expected to follow. Owens, 29, was initially only charged with making false statements during the investigation into Nicole’s death, but later, the charges were upgraded to felony murder, concealing a death, and seven counts of first-degree cruelty to children.
Investigators determined that the couple’s statements simply didn’t make sense and were contradictory to each other.
“We compared statements that we had gotten from Brittany Hall and also her partner, Celeste Owens. We compared those statements and recognized those statements were indeed false,” Gwinnett County Police Chief J.D. McClure said in a statement, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I can’t speculate on why they reported her as missing. But our investigation revealed Amari was not, in fact, missing. Very early in the investigation, we began to suspect foul play.”
McClure didn’t go into any detail as to why investigators determined that Owens and Hall were lying and that Owens was actually responsible for the child’s death, but he assured the Gwinnett County community during a press conference that they “worked diligently on this case,” and that “the investigators, from our uniform patrol officers who went out and searched the area, worked extremely hard, and unfortunately, these are not the results we had hoped for.”
Both Hall and Owens are being held without bond.