A North Carolina man has been arrested for killing a 4-year-old girl on Christmas Eve.
WSOC-TV reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested 26-year-old Demarcus Heath and charged him with the murder of 4-year-old Mariya Owens.
Officers found Owens unresponsive and she was taken to Novant Health Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
According to the police report, Owens choked on an unknown object. However, members of the family claim that Heath made that story up.
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After an autopsy, the medical examiner concluded that the girl had been physically assaulted, which led to Heath’s arrest. He is currently being held in jail without bond, and has been appointed a public defender.
Heath is the boyfriend of the girl’s mother.
The girl’s aunt, Antrinette Pharr, who had been the former guardian of Mariya until a judge granted custody to her mother, blames her sister for the girl’s death. Pharr claims that Heath should never have been around Mariya in the first place.
"I am going to make sure justice is served," she said. "I feel like she let the kids down. She let me down and basically caused a lot of pain and suffering in our lives."
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WBTV reports that Pharr was concerned enough about Mariya’s safety to alert Child Protective Services, yet the agency did nothing to protect Mariya.
"I wish that child protective service would start investigating and listening out to us more than what they do," said Pharr.
The agency had no comment on this ongoing situation.